Oshitelu, Josiah Olunowo

1902-1966 
Church of the Lord (Aladura) 
Nigeria 
Multiple versions are available: (A)(C)(D)

Josiah Ositelu was the son of an illiterate pagan farmer from Ogere town in Ijebuland, about three miles west of Iperu. His mother hailed from Owo, but his father Asaye Dawodu belonged to the Lisa family, which is traditionally the second chieftaincy house in Ogere, and his grandfather was a highly respected person in the community.

The children born before Josiah all died at a young age, allegedly through the evil forces of witches and so when he was conceived, his parents consulted an Ifa priest who assured them that he would survive. Josiah was born on May 15, 1902 and was called Ifakoya meaning “Ifa has avenged my cause” [1]. The Ifa priest prophesied that the boy would distinguish himself and would be endowed with spiritual authority and virtues.

As Ositelu was growing into boyhood, his spiritual endowment and mental alertness made him a very unusual child. He was reported to have prophesied about the future, revealed unknown secrets from the past, read signs in the sky, detected witches, and to have had unusual dreams of being taught by holy beings [2]. His parents were anxious about these signs because they feared he might be under evil influence. Diviners however assured his parents that the signs were that of a great future, and also that Ositelu would lead both Europeans and Africans into the ways of the Lord.

When he was of school age, his parents did not want him to go to school because of the natural fear of losing him especially as an Ifa prophecy stated that he should not be flogged or sent on errands. Dr. Turner told the story of how this fear was overcome when he was eleven years old. He had been sent by his father to go and help on the farm and was punished when he played on the way. On the third day his father fell from a palm tree and was seriously injured and it took him two years to recover from the injury. This experience was given as a reason why his father sent him to school. If he could not help in the farm or be punished for his behaviour, he could not be of any use in the community [3]. He was therefore sent to the Anglican school at Ogere, his hometown, in 1913 and completed his elementary education in standard five (the highest class at that time) in 1991 at Christ Church School, Porogun in Ijebu-Ode. He was thus able to convey his ideas, though not fluently in English.

It was almost automatic in those days for any child who attended a church school to be baptized and become a member of the church. Consequently, Ositelu was baptized on August 28th, 1914 by the Anglican minister at Iperu, and took the Christian name Josiah. He loathed name given to him at birth (Ifakoya) and preferred to call himself Oyenowo(“chieftaincy has honour”) and later still, Olunowo(“God has honour”). He thus became known as Josiah Olunowo Ositelu, the last being his grandfather’s name. In 1922, he was confirmed by Assistant Bishop Oluwole in St. Peter’s Church, Abeokuta. At school, Josiah had shown a peculiar interest in the spiritual realities of the Christian faith.

After his education in 1919, he was appointed a pupil teacher and taught in a number of Anglican schools, first at Orile-Imo (Abeokuta) and then at Asha, a town about fourteen miles from Ogere. He was at Asha from 1921 to 1923. While there he received training as a catechist under the clergy at Ishara, another Remo town, some ten miles away. From Asha he moved to Erunbe where he spent eighteen months before he was sent to Erukute to relieve a teacher-catechist who had gone for a year’s course at St. Andrew’s College, Oyo. Ositelu was made to believe that he was a prospective candidate for such a course.

At Erukute, he served as the only teacher in the Anglican School as well as the catechist responsible for conducting services and Bible classes under the supervision of Rev. D. M. George the clergy in charge of Ishan sub-district. He was also the secretary for the Ishan local church committee. The future actually looked rosy for Josiah in the Anglican Church but his boyhood experiences returned to change the course of his life.

Perhaps, the turning point in his life was his vision on the night of May 17th, 1925, when he saw a large eye “reflecting as a great orbit of the sun” [4] which was as big as the head of a cow. Although this vision might have represented God, Ositelu thought it symbolized the influence of witches in his life. He was so disturbed that he could not sleep that night and on the following day, he consulted the elders. On hearing the story they advised him to return home to Ogere for the vision might have caused tragic events in his family. When he narrated the vision to his parents, they were very much disturbed and it was said that his mother spent over a pound consulting with native doctors to make protective medicine for him. But all these initiatives produced no results and his fears increased. Disillusioned, he returned to Erekute, his station, and when the trouble continued, he was granted a long leave from his work to give him time to find a permanent solution.

It was suggested that an elder, Samuel Shomoye, who lived at Dada Village near Erekute could help him resolve his problem. Shomoye was a man of the Spirit and had been a follower of an evangelist, Aiyelabola. He told Ositelu not to have any fear and that his experiences were not a bad omen but indications that he was being called by God. He recommended that by reading the Psalms and through prayer and fasting he would overcome the evil powers haunting him. The Church of the Lord came to believe that God had sent evil forces to “whip Ositelu into the right way.” This phenomenon is not strange in the Christian church for examples abound like St. Paul the Apostle who was smitten with blindness on his way to Damascus where he had intended to persecute Christians [5]. Although his blindness was later cured, he remained partially blind for the rest of his life [6]. There are many modern church prophets who allegedly received such afflictions as a consequence of their reluctance to accept the call to preach [7]. Shomoye advised him to do away with native charms and medicines which he did. It is the view of Turner that this simple gospel of faith in God alone, with prayer and fasting, become the working basis of the church that Ositelu subsequently founded [8].

Ositelu returned to his work at Erekute with this new conviction. Even though he had more evil dreams, he reported that he was helped by a holy man in his dream “who dealt the witches with heavy blows until they were turned into cows, horses, rats, cats and some deformed creatures” [9]. On the 19th of June, 1925, he commenced fasting as Shomoye had advised and from the 27th of June, 1925, he began to hear voices that invited him to become a prophet and promised him divine authority and support. This continued for six consecutive months. He carefully recorded these messages in massive journals in which nearly ten thousand entries were made. The following are the central messages he heard between June and November 1925:

Your prayers are heard. After many afflictions. I will uplift you. Be not afraid. I am with you. (27th of June)

I will anoint you as my prophet, even as Elijah anointed Elisha with oil in the olden days, so it shall be unto you. (28th of August)

Gradually, the seals of power will come to you. Your good time draws on apace. (28th of September)

The Lord will give you a strong constitution and people will be streaming after you. (24th of September)

Thou shall teach the Oyo students, and those that are beyond the seas. (lOth of October)

The Elders will hold council to change your heart, but you will prevail. (4th of November)

I will build new Jerusalem in you. You are the one whom Jesus Christ has sent like the last Elijah to repair the Lord’s road and make His way straight. (5th of November}

I will give you a key of power like Moses, and will bless you like Job… I am the God of Kah… the God of Jah. (15th of November) [10]

Thus, the call of Josiah was predicated on God’s promises of authority, power and divine leadership to guide a group of people along the way of the Lord. The appearance of Elijah and the references to the “seals of power” and the new divine names thus formed part of the holy words found in the Church of the Lord, even today.

Throughout his nocturnal battles with the witches he continued to call upon God under such revealed names as Alljohnan or Anomonolnollahhuhah which he might have been taught by Pastor Shomoye. It is believed by Turner that some of the practices and taboos of the Church of the Lord seem to have their origin in this early period [11].

Ositelu could no longer remain in the Anglican Church or the Anglican Church could no longer tolerate (or contain) him. He was questioned about the innovations and “irregularities” he was introducing into the church. In addition to the problems he had with the authorities regarding his future in the Anglican Church, he had a very frustrating problem which had a direct bearing on his personal life and future. The girl he proposed to marry threatened to break up with him if he refused to change his ways and obey the orthodox (Anglican) way. To this, Josiah gave the same reply Peter gave to the Sanhedrin, that he would obey God rather than men [l2] and bade her farewell.

Further trouble began on February 2, 1926 when he was summoned before a group of seven clergymen at Ishan in the house of his immediate superior, the Rev. D. M. George, to defend himself against the charges of introducing irregularities or innovations into the church. There was no way he could win against a committee that was already prejudiced. No one who had made seemingly heretical statements in public about the beliefs of the church had ever won against the church leaders. Thus, Arius lost his case at Nicaea in 325 A.D. and many others after him. One is not surprised therefore, that Josiah was unable to defend himself against the allegation that he had made heretical statements. His suspension was subsequently announced by Rev. D. M. George on February 25, 1926.

On the 19th of April, 1926, the district council met at Abeokuta and decided to dismiss Josiah from the Anglican Church. This decision was communicated through Rev. D. M. George. Ositelu’s dismissal from the Anglican Church hastened the establishment of his church, the Church of the Lord (Aladura), even though this came much later.

After his dismissal he worked for some time as a clerk in one of his aunts’ shops but he spent most of his time there praying, fasting and recording the series of messages he received in dreams and visions. In fact, in order to have time to do these things he withdrew like St. Paul [13] from public view to ostensibly work for his aunt. The revelations continued and he made more and more entries in his journals until the more fully developed “holy script” appeared a year later. Like Arabic or Hebrew it was written from right to left. The script was said to be quite similar to both Greek and Syriac forms. The conjecture was that Ositelu might have seen a Greek Testament and some kind of Arabic text. The most significant of the messages he received was that of August 31, 1926, when he was asked to preach the gospel and give the water of life to those who listened and repented.

Even after a year of revelations as a prophet, Ositelu did not start evangelical work. In order to gain more experience and therefore more confidence, he decided to return to his spiritual master, Shomoye, to continue his apprenticeship. On the 13th of February, 1927, he returned to the small village near Erukute where Shomoye placed him under spiritual guidance for two years. Shomoye had identical experiences and he (Shomoye) was establishing Aladura churches for the surrounding villages. He later had a large church building at Dada and he trained his assistants to man the branches. Ositelu served his apprenticeship satisfactorily and developed his power of prophecy and continued to record many revelations.

One of his April 1927 revelations was his own personal holy name, Arrabablalhubab. He used the sign for the next twenty years as a personal signature. This formed the content of the Great Seal of the Organization described in its 1954 constitution. Other revelations confirmed the promise that “the fame of the glory of God’s name shall be spread up to Syria and America.” In reference to the church Ositelu was to found as the Church of the Lord, many coloured diagrams, drawings and symbolisms were revealed to Josiah during his stay at Dada, under the guidance of Shomoye. During this period, evangelist Aiyelabola who brought with him a follower named Daniel Ajayi Adefola, a young Ekiti man, visited Shomoye. Ajayi and Ositelu became friends and, consequently, Ajayi decided to stay back with Shomoye and later became Ositelu’s assistant when he started his ministry. They were both companions for a year until a rift between them caused Ajayi to return to his hometown of Okemesi where he founded a small church along the sames lines as the Church of Lord.

While it is true that a prophet is not without honour except in his own home [l4] Ositelu nevertheless found it necessary to return to Ogere, his birth place. Ositelu felt commissioned to preach to his own people in Ijebuland and in Egba and Ibadan. The period of preparation for the spiritual battle against evil powers was now over. He now had the secrets of victory and felt armed for bigger battles as a prophet of God among his people.

Mission in Ijebuland

Assisted by Ajayi, the Ekiti man, Josiah started his mission to Ijebuland with open air preaching at Ogere on June 9th, 1929. For about one year, he concentrated on Ogere before spreading the message to other territories. This was not without opposition from certain quarters. Ositelu spoke in tongues in meetings by using holy words which he derived from his vision. Important Aladura leaders from Ilesa and Ibadan made contacts with him for he had begun to acquire the fame of a renowned prophet during this period.

This growth bore some similarities to the parable of the mustard seed [15] and the revelation and events which soon followed had some biblical overtones. For example, on July 27, 1929, there was an inaugural service of the Church of the Lord which was held in Lisa compound at Ogere at 9.00 am with ten people in attendance. Ositelu based his sermon on Acts 2:39: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children and to all that are far off even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” It was an appropriate passage for the foundation of a church. He also had hanging in his parlor at Ogere, a framed picture of the water of life with statements containing the three main revelations of June and July which gave divine approval for the establishment of a new church. To give grace to these revelations the first church building of the Church of the Lord was dedicated on New Year’s Day in 1931.

Ositelu was accepted by the revival movement in Ibadan in July 1930, but by January 1931 the short romance had broken up. Two new leaders joined the Church of the Lord: Aina (who stayed for four years) and Abimbolu (who has remained one of the strong leaders at the Ibadan Assembly).

From Ogere, Ositelu went to Ibadan in 1931 to live with Pastor Aina, then a prophet in the Faith Tabernacle Church. Pastor Aina was also a Bible teacher and he had many disciples among whom were prophet Orekoya and some others, all living together happily as brothers in the church.

A schism between Ositelu and the Ibadan congregation took place when Ositelu tried to impose his peculiar strange teachings on the group. He declared that God had to be called some strange names before their petitions could be granted. Such names were Adusa-Kataburra and Lamulamugora. Orekoya and others rejected this new form of worship but some supported Ositelu and they went with him to form the Church of the Lord. The rest left to form the church later known as the Apostolic Church.

Ositelu at Home

Prophet Ositelu lost his father in 1927 before the Church of the Lord was born. His mother became the first lady president of the church and lived till 1948. After her death, Mrs. Dorcas Oyebola Sodipo succeeded her.

Having regarded his first failed attempted at getting married as part of God’s plan, Ositelu went on to marry seven wives. In fact, it was first predicted to him at the Ibadan meeting that he would have three wives but that number was later changed to the next spiritual number, seven. Ositelu saw this as God’s reward to compensate for his first disappointment, a sacrifice he made in obedience to God’s call. His first wife was Orebo. He married his second wife, Agnes Odutayo, in 1932 in a service conducted by J. Ade Aina, at the Ogere church. Orebo and her children all died within a few years and Agnes, a tall and beautiful woman, became the senior wife. Second to her was Susannah, who became a prophetess in the Sagamu branch of the church, returning later to Ogere.

Ositelu was blessed with many children and his oldest surviving son is Gabriel Olusegun born to Agnes in 1938. After his secondary school education, Olusegun was trained as an agriculturist but was satisfied with helping the church as a layman. The eldest surviving daughter, Susannah, was born in 1940 and received secondary school education. She remained very loyal to the church.

The first residential building at Ogere, called “Faith Home” was completed between 1932 and 1933 for Ositelu and his household. The house had seven rooms. One room containing the framed texts of the 1930 covenants is known as the “Covenant Parlour” and another with a framed picture of Michael stamping on the devil is called the “Michael Parlour.” More impressive headquarters, Oluwaseyi Mansion(“God has provided this mansion”), was dedicated in 1954 after the foundations were laid in 1949. It provided accommodation for the entire family of the primate, his secretaries and assistants and guests from distant places. It has remained the personal property of the founder, the criticisms by some members of the church notwitstanding. Ositelu’s name is painted across the front walls of the building.

Prophet Ositelu was a gentle, humble and hospitable man with a magnetic and compelling personality when he was called to the work.

Ositelu’s Christian background was derived entirely from the Anglican Church in Ijebu and Egba areas. Thanks to the religious and secular instruction during his six years of elementary school he was well versed in the study of both the Yoruba and English Bibles and this helped him acquire a “biblical cast of thoughts.” This Christian education was supplemented by the supervision and supplementary classes he later received as a teacher/catechist for about seven years. Turner holds the view that there is no evidence he was influenced by overseas religious literature that played a large part in the Faith Tabernacle section of the Aladura Movement. Such evidence may have been suppressed by the emphasis on Ositelu’s charismatic personality and the dominant position he occupied in his own church for his lot was not cast in Lagos, Ibadan or Ijebu Ode, where foreign literature might more easily be found, but rather in a small town of Ogere and in the bush villages of Erukute and Dada which are still, over thirty years later, not easily accessible [l6].

Thus, we see the characteristic features of the Aladura Movement in Ositelu but strange enough, he was not a follower of any other Aladura group, as some people claim. A leader in the Cherubim and Seraphim Organization has claimed that Ositelu “grew up” in that society. It is a historical fact that this society (Cherubim) was only beginning during Ositelu’s formative years in 1925 and 1926 and was founded in Lagos, fifty miles away. He did not hear of them until 1928. The claim by the Cherubim and Seraphim Church that Ositelu was a member of that society for some time is contrary to Ositelu’s account of having first come into contact with the Cherubim and Seraphim movement at Ogere late in 1930.

Josiah Ositelu’s spiritual history, though based on Anglican training, and coloured by the Scriptures, occurs within the climate of the Aladura Movement and it remained the independent development of an unusual and charismatic personality [17]. He parted with the Faith Tabernacle because the leaders could not accept the “Holy Names” which he saw in vision [18]. After the initial growth pains the Church of the Lord spread not only within Ijebuland, but as far as Egbaland, the Ibadan and Lagos areas and throughout former Western Nigeria. In spite of many secessions, the church has continued to grow from strength to strength.

Northern Nigeria

The pioneering efforts for the spread of the Church of the Lord in northern Nigeria were made by Mr. S. A. Ogunnaike, an Ijebu man, who was converted in Lagos by Adejobi in 1944. He went to the North in 1950 and remained there for over ten years. He was responsible for establishing the church in Kaduna, Kano and Jos in the early fifties. The story of the church in the North is full of personality clashes between church leaders.

Eastern Nigeria

The establishment of the Church of the Lord in eastern Nigeria was somewhat delayed, consequently the church did not gain reasonable ground there. A survey made from Sapele in 1945 for the establishment of the Church in eastern Nigeria, did not bear fruit until January 1956 when an Igbo minister started work in Aba. The work progressed reasonably well. The primate travelled all the way from Ogere to Aba covering over six hundred kilometres to inaugurate the church on June 17th, 1956 before a congregation of seventy-four men and ninety women [l9].

In 1957 Rev. Sonoiki visited from Ogere, and baptized fifty-three members and appointed twenty-six cross bearers. An outstation was opened at Port Harcourt in 1956. In 1957, Sonoiki visited it and baptized some members and also appointed cross bearers. It is reported that when Aba withdrew her support in 1956 [sic] the branch collapsed [20].

The only other centre of work in the East was at Enugu. A branch was started in July 1957 and Sonoiki included a visit in his itinerary during his tour of the East in 1957. The slow expansion of the Church in the East and the relatively small number of stations after six years (1956-1962) with only two ministers and no permanent church building was most unfortunate. Turner speculated that it was all due to rivalry between the Yoruba and Igbo peoples and that many Yoruba preferred to work in other West African countries or northern Nigeria rather than in eastern Nigeria [21]. This couldn’t have been true, especially as they did not fare better among the Ijaws, Efik, Annang and Ogoja tribal groups that are not Igbo. One would also wonder why the Port Harcourt branch outside Igboland could not survive while those at Aba and Enugu in the heart of Igboland survived. His view that it was difficult to persuade the right type of ministers to go to the distant and strange world of the East is not very acceptable [22] considering his own argument that: “The recruitment and training of his ministers has been a major problem to Ositelu from the beginning of the church, and it remains unsolved today” (1967) [23].

The problem then seemed to be a staff shortage. Turner also made a point when he attributed the church’s slow expansion to the political system of Eastern Nigeria where there are no large indigenous towns under traditional kings which could support in turn, a host of small independent churches and healing homes [24]. Added to this was the fact that there were many other Aladura churches in the East before the Church of the Lord arrived. Since all of them were associated with drumming, spiritual healing with water, prayers and the wearing of white robes, the church easily passed for a branch of the existing Aladura churches. It was necessary for the Church of the Lord to go through a period of adaptation in order to succeed among the indigenous population of the east which had many local prophets and religious movements.

According to the vision of the primate, the spread of the Church of the Lord would not be restricted to Nigeria alone. It was revealed to him that his church would spread not only in West Africa but also as far as England and America.

Liberia

A Liberian lawyer, Hon. Justice Barclay visited Nigeria in September 1946, on a healing trip. During the course of his visit he was impressed by the activities of the Church of the Lord. He visited Ogere, the church headquarters, where he met the primate. He and his men discovered the use of consecrated water for healing and were impressed by the prophecies which revealed many things about their own lives and other signs of the power of God in the church. Primate Ositelu later discussed with the Barclays the possibility of establishing a branch in Liberia. By January 1947, the primate received a reply from the Barclays’ stating that the time was not ripe due to a lack of accomodation. They however added that a prophet could be sent to make a survey and return with a report. The primate replied that one Prophet Oduwole would be in Liberia not only to make a feasibility survey but “to establish the church at once, in God’s name” [25]. Two weeks later, Oduwole whom the Barclays met in Ogere set off for Liberia. He was joined in Lagos by Prophet Adejobi who was scheduled to go to Sierra Leone without a definite invitation. On Thursday, April 3rd, 1947, Oduwole landed at Monrovia and lodged with the reluctant Barclays.

He began his evangelistic work on the same day. His first patient was Mrs. Barclays’ brother-in-law whom he prayed for and healed to the astonishment of many people. This caused many to visit him in the Barclays’ residence the following day. It was reported that the Barclays’ cheerfully gave him the ground floor of their residence for use as a chapel. It was there that the Church of the Lord was established in Monrovia, Liberia. Because of the close connection between the Barclays’ and president Tubman, Prophet Oduwole was introduced to the president who showed special interest in his work.

Due to an unfortunate quarrel between the prophet and the Barclays’ he was thrown out of their residence, but in October 1954 he moved to the residence of Mrs. Abul which was given to the church free of charge. The church continued to grow not only in Monrovia but throughout Liberia, with quarrels here and there. Training institutes for the prophets, divine healing hospitals and maternity centres were established. By 1962 the church had been firmly planted in twelve centres in Liberia.

The relationship between the Church of the Lord and the state continued to be cordial. This is illustrated by the tragic event of April 7th, 1965 when a patient in the faith home murdered prophet Oduwole who was praying for him. President Tubman and a number of the members of his cabinet attended the funeral and businesses were closed at noon, while flags were flown at half-mast. The president also made some provision for Oduwole’s family.

Gold Coast (Ghana)

Prophet Adeleke Adejobi started a church in Ghana in March 1953, and by June of the same year, barely three months after Adejobi, Oduwole also started his own missionary work in the Gold Coast because he resented Adejobi’s mission and saw it as an infringement on his territory [26]. It is reported that he established a church in Accra and another branch along the coast at Komenda.

Prophet Oduwole did not restrict his work to Liberia and the Gold Coast. He also founded a branch of the church at Lome, Togo in 1961. This was the first mission to be established outside the English-speaking area of West Africa. Oduwole regarded the French-speaking neighbouring country of Côte d’Ivoire as part of his allotted territory. Though he did not launch his mission there he made reasonable contacts towards establishing the Church of the Lord in the country before his death.

Sierra Leone

Adeleke Adejobi distinguished himself as a hard-working prophet in the Lagos area. In 1946, he was in charge of the main branch at Elegbata. That year he received a vision directing him to go to Freetown to establish the Church of the Lord. Primate Ositelu permitted him to go on this mission. But there was no definite invitation from Sierra Leone or any contact made, as had been the case in Liberia. Adejobi commended his mission to God. A Creole couple, Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Bell, who worked in the P.&T. Department in Lagos in 1947, were attending Adejobi’s church at Elegbata. Both Adejobi and Oduwole,–the latter reputedly established the Monrovian mission,–accompanied the couple who were going on leave. They provided accommodation for the two missionaries at their home in Freetown when they landed there on March 21st, 1947. Oduwole stayed there for nine days before proceeding on to Monrovia.

It is said that the people became interested as soon as they saw Adejobi and Oduwole in their white gowns. The people inquired whom they were and started to visit them in their residence for prayers. After the departure of Oduwole, Adejobi inaugurated the Church of the Lord on Easter Day, April 6th, 1947, with a congregation of forty in the morning and fifty-eight in the evening. He was offered free accommodation by Mrs. Laura Dove Savage and within a month of his arrival he had a congregation of about six hundred. In less than four months, Adejobi laid the foundation stone of the first branch of the Church of the Lord in Sierra Leone. But the infant congregation however suffered many tribulations which involved police and court cases. It took a year for the tumult to subside. By 1952 a magnificent church building which cost seven thousand pounds had been completed in Freetown. The primate travelled from Nigeria to dedicate it in October 1952. The church was also established in the interior part of Sierra Leone.

At the request of the people of the Gold Coast, through the primate when he visited Sierra Leone in 1952, Adejobi was asked to extend his mission work there. He arrived the Gold Coast in March 1953, and stayed there for eight months, travelling extensively. He established many churches in the course of his mission. In the next seven years, he reportedly paid at least eight more visits,–some for periods of up to six months,–to this distant section of what soon came to be known as his “Sierra Leone-Gold Coast See.” A chain of churches spread along the coast eastwards from Takoradi into the far comers of Ashanti country growing from strength to strength in spite of the rivalry between Adejobi and Oduwole.

Europe

The divine service for the inauguration of the First West African Church in Europe was held on the 12th of April 1964 at St. Andrew’s Congregational Church in London [27]. This was through the commendable effort of Prophet Adejobi who went there for further studies. This church was mostly made up of Africans and West Indians residing in England.

America

Through spiritual revelation the primate had known that his church would extend to America in his life time. He therefore assigned the territory to Oduwole, one of his able lieutenants. The mission was fulfilled through Mrs. Angeline Toles whom Oduwole had healed and to whom he had given his consent to proceed overseas for further studies. While studying at Atlanta University, she told the story of her life to some Negro Christian brothers and sisters. She formed a prayer group which she called “Samuel Oduwole Spiritual Club.” It is said that the club spread into several Methodist and Baptist churches in Atlanta, Philadelphia and New York, with weekly meetings and annual conventions. Between September 1956 and December 1957 there were eighteen recorded cases of healing overseas through the use of handkerchiefs, prayers and fasting.

One cannot tell the story of Primate Ositelu, the founder of the Church of the Lord, without telling the story of the church during his life time, because it was through the church that he became a prominent figure. Separating him from the church is therefore impossible. Ositelu’s Aladura church started only in 1931, after many others had taken off. Although he did not see himself as competing with them, yet his church quickly became a force to be reckoned with. There is no doubt that his results were not spectacular within the first ten years, yet when the church started to grow, Ositelu recorded more remarkable success than other Aladura churches predating his. Admittedly, he had administrative problems especially as eighteen splinter groups developed from his church. He was also lucky to have such energetic workers as Adejobi, Oduwole and Ogunnaike and he must nevertheless be commended for winning the confidence of such workers who could have safely started their own Aladura churches, as was the practice then.

It is on record however that the church could not satisfy the demands of all those who wanted branches of the Church of the Lord established in their area. For instance, the invitations from Calabar, Gold Coast, Gambia and London were not fully met. A lack of manpower was the primate’s most serious constraint. There is no doubt that the church would have expanded more rapidly if there had been enough hands. The Taborah [29] of the church was inaugurated as a unifying factor.

It is to the credit of the primate that he did not impose his son’s leadership on the church, thus making it a family or hereditary business. He did not want the church to disintegrate in a battle for leadership. Thus, before his death on July 12th, 1966 he appointed Apostle Adejobi as his successor. He even went as far as grading other leaders for the same reason. There is no doubt that Primate Ositelu died a very satisfied man.

The Story of an Unsung Hero: History and Legacy of Garrick Sokari Braide (1882-1918)

African Church history is rich with stories of renewals across the continent. Garrick Braide is one of the pioneers of revival in Africa. Braide was born ca. 1882 in Obonoma, a small Kalabari pagan village in the Niger Delta (now Bayelsa, Delta and River State in the South of Nigeria). This village was noted as one of the leading places of pagan worship and pilgrimage in Nigeria. His parents were servants of the Ogu cult which was a titular deity of Obonoma. His parents were very poor; therefore Braide did not have the opportunity of being educated.  He later became a Christian and was baptized on January 23rd 1910 at St Andrews Anglican Church in Bakana. Garrick Braide was an Ijaw man by tribe, but he had to learn the Church catechism in Igbo language, as this was the language of instruction in all the Niger-Delta Pastorate. Braide had to learn the Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer and the Creeds in Igbo before he was baptised. After his baptism, he was confirmed by Rev. James Johnson. Around 1912 Braide was beginning to be noted for his enthusiasm and religious exercises. He later felt called by the Lord into ministry and was accepted as a lay preacher in the Anglican Church of the Niger-Delta pastorate.

Braide’s method of teaching and ministry was very different from that of the Mission Churches. While they introduce Christianity through the teaching of the Creeds, The Lord’s Prayer and catechism, Braide adopted a more practical approach and contextualized the Gospel among the Delta people. He taught the people to renounce their gods, destroy their fetishes and to simply believe in the Lord Jesus. This approach is Biblical, as reflected in 1 Thessalonians 1: 9-10. Braide was convinced that the approach of the Mission Churches did not deal with the root problems of the Delta people; namely idol worshipping. He knew that until the Delta people lost faith in their witch doctors, idols and fetishes there could be no true conversion. To this end he organized a crusade against charms, idol worshipping and the use of fetish objects. The following are some of his teachings:

(1)  He emphasized absolute dependence on God and explained sin and suffering as cause and effect. He taught the people to depend on God for physical and spiritual healing. He encouraged his hearers not to seek traditional medicine nor seek the help of medical doctors.

(2)  He also preached that people should abstain from alcoholic beverages and refrain from dealing in magical practices.

(3) Braide demanded a strict observance of Sunday, because in the traditional religion the day of rest was every eighth day, Fenibene, ceremonially observed for the gods. Sunday was the Lord’s Day; therefore no normal activities should take place.

(4) He recommended a liturgy in which the indigenes should praise God in their local songs, prayers and worship. Braide taught Africans how to worship God in an African way. He castigated the missionaries for not taking the world-view of the Africans into consideration in presenting the Gospel. The Mission Churches made Christianity too remote and intellectual to meet the ritualistic needs of the Delta people’s traditional religion.

Braide’s methods of ministry redefined Christianity as a practical religion for the people of the Niger-Delta, and the result was a large number of conversions to the Anglican Church. Braide, using and encouraging the native language of the Ijaw people and not Igbo, made Christianity available to the average person. He reasoned from his own personal experience of learning the Church doctrines in Igbo that it took a long time, making it burdensome to become a Christian. Aided also by his ability to demonstrate the gift of healing through prayer, he was accepted by his people as a Prophet commissioned by God. The effect of Braide’s preaching was evident in the number of those coming to the enquirers’ class (a modern day equivalent of The Alpha Course). At the Anglican Church the number of people enquirering about Christianity ca. 1909 was 300, but by 1912 (when Braide was already involved in evangelistic activities) the number increased to 2,933.  Another influence Braide’s preaching had on the Ijaw people was to convict them to set on fire their fetishes and charms. Like the Biblical Gideon he stopped people from offering sacrifices to the great divinity of Kalabari.  Visitations to witch doctors also dramatically decreased as the people relied on God for healing. Another change that occurred was the fall in the sales of alcohol and beverages. As a result, the British administration faced a deficit of £576,000 in 1916, a loss which was ascribed to Garrick Braide’s movement. Braide moved from one village to another preaching the Gospel and telling the people to renounce their fetishes. His ministry spread from Bonny to Urhoboland, Benin and Yorubaland. Some Anglican ministers who supported Braide’s ministry noticed that the statistical figures of those becoming Christians had risen steeply. The cross of Christ was erected in the place of idols, revival meetings were held with thousands of people attending and people were healed faster at Braide’s meetings than in the care of the traditional or European doctors.

Garrick Braide achieved in three months what the Church Missionary Society (CMS) had not attained in half a century. Bishop James Johnson, the supervisor of the Niger-Delta, believed that Braide was gifted by God, but only as long as Braide acknowledged that he was endowed by God. Braide used his gift to win thousands of converts into the Anglican Church under James Johnson for a period of seven years.  Braide’s ministry was a success in that there was an awakening in Nigeria which had never occurred before. Initially, several Anglican clergy declared their approval of Braides’s evangelistic crusades because of the obvious increase in Church membership which resulted in mass baptisms, especially in the Anglican Churches.

Later the Anglican Church authorities became suspicious and ultimately very critical of Braide’s activities because he did not apply the discipline of the Anglican Church. He was accused of tolerating polygyny and calling himself ‘the second Elijah’ (Elijah redivivus). Braide had inevitably become the object of adoration because he was popular among his people.  It was even reported that people wanted to drink his bathwater in order to be healed. Personality worship, something common in Pentecostal circles today, took the place of true worship as people regarded disobeying Garrick Braide as disobeying God. The final straw came in February 1916, when chiefs from all over the Delta assembled to meet with Bishop James Johnson. The purpose of the gathering was to persuade the Bishop to give Braide an officially recognized place in the Delta Church. The request was tantamount to asking Johnson to institute the office of the Prophet in the Anglican orders. His rejection of this request led to a great schism. From this time on Braide’s followers rejected the leadership of Bishop James Johnson and the Anglican Church. Later on, as the situation deteriorated, James Johnson appealed to the Colonial administration to intervene. This intervention was welcomed by the Colonial Authorities for obvious reasons. Firstly as mentioned earlier the reduction of the sales of alcohol as a result of Braide’s preaching caused a huge deficit for the Colonial government. The Government had largely depended on the sale of alcohol for its revenue, hence their willingness to intervene. A second reason for intervention, was the prophetic movement of William Wade Harris (1865-1929) which was contemporaneous with the Braide movement and which the Colonial administration in Ivory Coast (now Cote d Ivoire) had claimed was associated with political matters. In 1915 the French government in Ivory Coast had thought it expedient to arrest and expel Harris, so the British government thought it wise to follow suit. It must also be reasoned that the Colonial powers felt threatened by a strong local man with a large following.

In March 1916 Braide was finally arrested and accused of insurrection, blasphemy and schism. He was pronounced guilty by the Colonial Authorities and was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour. Shortly before he was to be released in November, eight further charges were brought against Braide and his followers. He remained in prison until January 1918. His activities after release from prison are unknown, and he was said to have survived only eleven months. He died on 15 November 1918 following an illness.

After his death his followers founded the Christ Army Church and flourished under the leadership of Rev S.A. Coker. Braide himself had never intended to start a Church of his own; he had always insisted that his mission was that of a Prophet. The Christ Army Church constituted a rival Church to the Anglican Church in the Niger Delta Pastorate, with Christ Army Church in control of Delta Christianity. However, by 1939 Christ Army Church began to decline as a result of poor funding and weak organizational structures. There was also a split in the Church because of power struggles amongst the leaders. Later, S.A. Coker was able to bring together the various strands in the Church. The Braide Movement continues today with its prophetic distinction, although they are not very prominent. In conclusion, Briade was the first revivalist and Prophet Nigeria ever witnessed to pioneer mass gatherings, which have become typical of African Christianity today. He will be remembered for his contextual approach to ministry which resulted in the Niger-Delta revival.

SERVICE TO GOD – A DOORWAY TO ACCESSING SUPERNATURAL SUPPLIES

When you make up your mind to serve God and service your generation, supernatural supplies will naturally flow to you.

SCRIPTURE: And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. Exodus 23:25

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: When you make up your mind to serve God and service your generation, supernatural supplies will naturally flow to you. 

It has been confirmed that service to God is a covenant blessing connector. Service is a connector of supernatural supplies.

The Book of Exodus 23:25 makes it clear that if you serve the Lord, you shall be blessed. And please note that it is not just serving God but servicing your generation. 

When God blesses you greatly, what would you do with the money? Of course, it is to service your generation. When you minister welfare to people, you would realise that there are many people in need. Many times, you will not even know where to start from in meeting the needs of people. 

Let me give you an example: After preaching on a Sunday service one day, as I was attending to people, I saw many of them in diverse needs. One of them told me, “I don’t have where to sleep this night; I don’t even know what to eat tonight”. Many people are genuinely in need.

God wants you to come to a point where you begin to service your generation; a point where you are positioned to service your generation with supplies; where you don’t look for money for personal comfort but to service your generation. When you make up your mind to serve God and service your generation, then supernatural supplies will naturally flow to you.

Remember this: When you make up your mind to serve God and service your generation, supernatural supplies will naturally flow to you. 

ASSIGNMENTS:

  1. Make up your mind to be of service both to God and to your generation.
  2. Be involved in service in the House of God.

PRAYER: Lord, I receive a heart of a servant. I receive the grace to dedicatedly serve You and service my generation Lord, in Jesus’ Name. 

FOR FURTHER UNDERSTANDING, GET THIS MESSAGE: ABUNDANCE IN THE GLORY

REFLECTION: Have you wiped the tear of anyone recently? Have you put the smile on the face of anyone recently? Have you cared enough to listen to anyone’s plight recently? Have you made a positive difference in the life of anyone recently?

PROPHETIC DECLARATION/WORD: May the Lord put in your hand, what is in your heart to do for others in Jesus’ Name.

        

Sailors make vows to the LORD

JONAH 1:13-16

“At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him” Jonah 1:16NIV

Some time ago, a gang of highway robbers stopped a lorry and ordered the women (traders) to climb down from the lorry. One of the women (a non-Christian) started shouting the name of Jesus. The leader of the gang pushed her aside and said, “Stay aside, Jesus’ mother”. She was the only person who was not robbed; this led to her becoming a Christian.
God can use any situation to save the lost. The people who traveled with Jonah were obviously pagans and didn’t know the God of the Hebrews. Jonah told them to throw him into the sea and as they obliged, the trouble stopped. Indeed, the experience brought them to the saving knowledge of God. They worshipped the God of Hebrews and made vows to Him. They yielded their lives unto Him and became “born again”.
Have you given your life to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If no, today is the day of your salvation. Bow down, open your heart unto Him, and invite Him into your heart. You will become a new person. If you have given your life to Jesus, know that He can use any situation in your life to bring men to Himself. Corporate with God in the Kingdom’s business.

Insight: “Our behaviour is nothing more than a reflection of the depth of our conversion to Jesus Christ.”

Prayer: Father, let all the weapons of the enemy against me be destroyed in Jesus name!

THE COVENANT OF SERVICE

Service to God is a covenant. When you do your part in serving God, God does His part in blessing you. 

SCRIPTURE: You shall serve the Lord your God and He shall bless your bread and your water… Exodus 23:25.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Service to God is a covenant. When you do your part in serving God, God does His part in blessing you.

There is something called the covenant of service. Service to God is a covenant. When you do your part in serving God, God does His part in blessing you.  

Things produce for you according to your revelation of them. It is possible to work in church or render service to God for donkey years without any commensurate reward. Maybe you think you are merely assisting the church or God by your service.  

People struggle to work for oil companies, the United Nations, the World Health Organization or some foreign embassies because they think the pay is big. But the truth is, the pay of God is much bigger. 

If you function with revelation, you exist with manifestation. You must function with the appropriate revelation to see the blessing of God in service. As you serve God, you must know that you are not wasting your time. You are not just assisting the church; you are in the most lucrative employment of Jehovah. You are in the appointment of El-Shaddai, the mighty-breasted God. This is the revelation that sponsors the blessing of God in Kingdom service.

So, I like you to do the things you do for the Kingdom with the right revelation and mentality. Don’t think that you are trying to help a church. Always know that you are in God’s employment via your service in the Kingdom, and God will pay you.

Remember this: Service to God is a covenant. When you do your part in serving God, God does His part in blessing you.  

ASSIGNMENTS:

  1. Go through today’s message again.
  2. Make up your mind to play your part in serving God.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for Your Word to me today. I receive the grace to play my part in the covenant of service with the right mentality, Lord, in Jesus’ Name.

FOR FURTHER UNDERSTANDING, GET THIS MESSAGE: DIMENSIONS OF DEDICATION (PART 1B) 

QUOTE: Be a servant of God. Live in His service. Serving God preserves life. Culled from “15 KINGDOM STRATEGIES FOR SURVIVAL” by Dr Paul Enenche.

DAILY READING: Psalm 19-21

REFLECTION: How have you contributed to the expansion of the Kingdom on earth through service? And how have you served? As a favour done to the church or as a covenant walk with God? More important than what we do is the heart and the revelation with which we do it. 

PROPHETIC DECLARATION/WORD: The Blessing of service finds expression in your life in Jesus’ Name.

    

RAW FAITH SERIES: BABALOLA IN OSOGBO KNOWN FOR CREATIVE MIRACLES

I read earlier today on my son’s page, Adeyeye Tosin about this great father of faith.
This is not Apostle Babalola but he was made from his sleeves.
Prophet Ezekiel Oladoye Babalola was born in 1924, he lives to 79years of age before he left to be with the Lord.
After his call, he had an encounter where Apostle Ayo Babalola appeared to him and asked him what he wanted.
Baba answered and said he wants to be an genuine ambassador of the cross, in the revelation Ayo Babalola laid on him and he woke up.
Babalola Oshogbo was known mainly for creative miracles.
He was invited to Lagos in the late 80’s to a CAC church in Mushin, as he was ministering, a man who was known to be a dwarf was in the meeting.
The man of God asked the people of God to ask for what they wanted, the dwarf asked that he wants to be tall because the reproach is too much.
This was revealed this to his servant, he said, to that man that requested to be tall, receive answer to your prayers, immediately, he started growing tall until the man of God said stop.
Any sick person that comes close to Baba got healed immediately.
Just like Baba Omojuwa he was very full of God’s presence.
His prayer life was extra ordinary like Apostle Ayo Babalola.
He was invited to a meeting one day and the Lord told to read the Lord’s prayer alone and nothing more.
There were hundred of people at the meeting, as he mount the pulpit, he read the Lord’s prayer and there was massive healing and deliverance.
One great thing about the wonders of God in life is translocating, his vehicle broke down one day and he told his driver to work on it and meet him at the front.
He fixed the vehicle under 10minutes to his surprise he saw the prophet trekking towards the venue of the program, the he speeds the more further Baba have gone trekking.
He finally gave up in order not to crash the vehicle, he met the prophet of God at the venue.
‘In the 1980s, a boy was brought to him, Lukman, who had no mouth opening.
Before then, his mouth had been operated upon severally to create an opening but each time that was done, it sealed up again.
Prophet Babalola prayed and anointed the mouth with oil, the mouth opened permanently.
This defied science even the watching crowd had their mouth opened.
Like the men in his time, The prophet made use of this opportunity by preaching Christ to the people.’
(Culled from Evang Adeyeye Tosin article).
He was also known for the grace to heal people with mental illness, the Lord so blessed him with power that as soon as they brought a madman he would say loose him and the person who become healed.
Like the men in his time they were not motivated by material wealth, their sole aim is Jesus reveal.
Their faith stood them out.
These men don’t go about talking about themselves they talk about Jesus they have personally encountered.
They are sold out to prayers. Not just prayers but faith soaked prayers.
They were soul hunting for Jesus without camera and PR personnel.
Their aim was not to gather crowd but to convert men into the kingdom of our Lord Jesus.
Blessings.

HOLINESS IN DAILY CHRISTIAN LIFE


Ephesians 5:25-27

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkles, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

DAILY WORD OF CHRIST WORLDWIDE, wants you to make it to heaven by all means.
As obedience children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance. But as he wish hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.
Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.

Follow peace with all men, and Holiness without which no eyes shall see the Lord.

Practical holiness with inward purity and perfect love is of much importance in the Christian Life.
Every Christian is called unto holiness and righteousness.
For God hath not called us unto uncleanliness, but unto holiness 1 Thessalonians 4:7.
Christian holiness is not optional. If you really desire heaven at last. Holiness is a must for all heavenly citizens.
Be ye perfect even as your heavenly father is perfect. Matthew 5:47.

HOLINESS in acrostic:
H – Humility Philippians 2:3-10
O – Obedience 1 Samuel 13:1-14
L – Love John 14:15,23
I – Integrity Job 2:9; 31:6
N – New nature Ephesians 4:23,24
E – Endurance1 Peter 2:18-20
S – Self denial Matthew 16:24,25
S – Separation 2 Corinthians 6:16-18.

A truly sanctified believer is a consecrated believer and endure all misrepresentations by friends, all forms of persecution from unbelievers.
No one who has real communion with heaven can find it convenient to keep company with the worldly.
His very spirit withdraws and revolts from every form of worldliness.
Child of God, we are in the injury time. No more time. Jesus is coming anytime from now. The signs of his coming are presently seen every where in the world.
Let’s come back to Holiness and Righteousness. Put away all this worldliness. They are the properties of demons. It will bar you from entry heaven. Be warned.

Prayer points
My Father my God, make me holy within and without in the name of Jesus Christ.
Sanctified my heart in the name of Jesus Christ.

FURTHER READING:
1 Peter 1:1-end
2 Peter 1:1-end.

Your spiritual life is our concern..

Don’t be a fire wood in the lake of fire.

The Giver (A true life story)

A pastor who was praying in his church, received a call from his wife. She told him the kids were all sent home from school for their school fees. She told him she had gone back to the school to beg the management for some more time to pay up, but they had refused.

The pastor had some amount of money with him – thirty thousand naira in total. He told his wife to wait at the school while the children returned back to class.

“I am coming to pay something. Give the principal the phone let me talk to him.” He instructed.

The phone was handed over to the principal and the pastor told the principal to allow his children attend lessons.

“I am coming to drop something sir. I am on my way please. Let them return to class. I do not want them to miss classes.” He said.

The principal agreed.

Quickly the pastor picked the amount of money and flagged down a taxi. He announced his destination to the driver and the journey began.

While in the taxi, a conversation was raised by a passenger about the situation of the country. The pastor told the passenger that he was on his way to pay his children school fees and he didn’t even have the complete fees yet. The driver also complained about his inability to pay his own children school fees.

“I haven’t even finished feeding my family not to talk of raising school fees. Just yesterday, my wife just delivered of a baby, and I do not have money to pay her hospital bills. My rent would soon be due. I do not know what else to do.” The driver spoke bitterly.

Everyone spoke at random about the country’s situation. While they spoke, the pastor heard a voice clearly. It had come through his right ears.

“Give him the money in your hands.”

The pastor laughed to himself. The passengers in the car wondered why the pastor was laughing.

To the pastor, the message sounded funny, considering the fact that God knew he needed the money to pay his children fees. God couldn’t possibly ask him to give out his children school fees to a man he never knew from Adam.

“O devil you are liar.” The pastor muttered to himself and blurted in tongues.

Half way to his destination, he heard the voice a second time. This time, it was louder and clearer.

“Give him the money in your hands.”

The pastor became sad. He knew it was the voice of God. But then, he thought about his children. He thought about the commitment he had made to the principal. He thought about the way his wife will feel when he tells her he had given out his children fees to a random driver he had met in a taxi to solve his problems, while he was still left with his unsolved.

When the driver arrived at his children school, instead of paying his transport fair, he pulled out thirty thousand and handed over to the driver.

“Take this. Pay your wife’s hospital bill. And settle your rent. It is all I have.” He announced.

The driver collected the money with tears in his eyes. He immediately came down from the cab and knelt down to thank the pastor who had done him such great favour. The pastor lifted him up and helped wipe his tears.

As a means to keep contact, and one day attend his church with his wife, the driver collected the pastors number before driving off.

The wife of the pastor who had seen from a distance all that had happened, ran up to her husband. She saw the look on his face and immediately knew her husband had done something that would both affect them.

“Where is the fees?” She asked.

“I gave to the driver. His wife is in the hospital.” He replied.

“How much.” She inquired.

“Thirty thousand.”

The wife broke down in tears.

“Thirty thousand? In such a situation and time when we need money the most you gave out thirty thousand?”

“It was the voice of God.”

“I do not think you know the voice of God and the voice of the devil any longer. God cannot tell you to make such a drastic sacrifice. God cannot tell you to give thirty thousand to a common stranger, while our three kids are being sent home for school fees. Even God knows we need the money more than him. Why will you allow the devil use you to put us to shame? Why?” She shouted bitterly.

The children were brought out of their class rooms and made to go home with their parents until they were able to settle their fees.

It so happened that the driver that same day, was driving back home. He picked a random passenger who was just standing in front of the airport gate.

During a random conversation with the driver, the passenger announced that he was a pastor who was new in the country. He told the driver that he was sent by his church to supervise a big project which was suppose to begin in the country. But he has no one to trust who could show him around, and help him execute the project.

“I know a man. I know a man who is trust worthy. A good man. A man who had just helped me moments back. He is a pastor like you. See, he gave me thirty thousand to pay my wife’s hospital bill and also settle my rent. He gave me this money, yet he had no money to pay his children school fees. You can trust this man sir. I collected his phone number. I believe if you call him and speak with him, he would be able to help you.” The driver spoke confidently.

The pastor was convinced. He requested for the number of this pastor, whom this driver had spoke of.

“Give me his number, and I shall call him right away to meet me in my hotel. If he is trust worthy as you say, he shall handle all projects in this country, while I return back to my church. He shall be paid handsomely too.”

The call was made. The meeting between both pastors took place. An agreement was reached. A contract was initiated and signed. The pastor who had listened to the voice that spoke to him, was awarded the contract to supervise the establishment of 17 churches in the country. The pastor was also invited by the visiting pastor to come to his country to preach to his congregation too.

The life of one struggling pastor was changed in one day, because he listened to a voice and made a sacrifice.

How many times have you heard the voice speak to you, only for you to ignore it? How many times have you had that urge and feeling to help someone and you turned it down? Many have missed an opportunity that would have changed their lives forever, just because they refused to listen to that voice. They failed to make that sacrifice because they felt they needed it more. They felt the urge yet they ignored it.

May God help us not to miss that opportunity that will secure our future and destiny in life.

Don’t let this message end with you alone.

Do well to mention someone to read this story as well. Like and share the story.

Let a life somewhere be touched.
Inspiring people to be better

(A true life story)
by Praises Chidera Obiora

A pastor who was praying in his church, received a call from his wife. She told him the kids were all sent home from school for their school fees. She told him she had gone back to the school to beg the management for some more time to pay up, but they had refused.

The pastor had some amount of money with him – thirty thousand naira in total. He told his wife to wait at the school while the children returned back to class.

“I am coming to pay something. Give the principal the phone let me talk to him.” He instructed.

The phone was handed over to the principal and the pastor told the principal to allow his children attend lessons.

“I am coming to drop something sir. I am on my way please. Let them return to class. I do not want them to miss classes.” He said.

The principal agreed.

Quickly the pastor picked the amount of money and flagged down a taxi. He announced his destination to the driver and the journey began.

While in the taxi, a conversation was raised by a passenger about the situation of the country. The pastor told the passenger that he was on his way to pay his children school fees and he didn’t even have the complete fees yet. The driver also complained about his inability to pay his own children school fees.

“I haven’t even finished feeding my family not to talk of raising school fees. Just yesterday, my wife just delivered of a baby, and I do not have money to pay her hospital bills. My rent would soon be due. I do not know what else to do.” The driver spoke bitterly.

Everyone spoke at random about the country’s situation. While they spoke, the pastor heard a voice clearly. It had come through his right ears.

“Give him the money in your hands.”

The pastor laughed to himself. The passengers in the car wondered why the pastor was laughing.

To the pastor, the message sounded funny, considering the fact that God knew he needed the money to pay his children fees. God couldn’t possibly ask him to give out his children school fees to a man he never knew from Adam.

“O devil you are liar.” The pastor muttered to himself and blurted in tongues.

Half way to his destination, he heard the voice a second time. This time, it was louder and clearer.

“Give him the money in your hands.”

The pastor became sad. He knew it was the voice of God. But then, he thought about his children. He thought about the commitment he had made to the principal. He thought about the way his wife will feel when he tells her he had given out his children fees to a random driver he had met in a taxi to solve his problems, while he was still left with his unsolved.

When the driver arrived at his children school, instead of paying his transport fair, he pulled out thirty thousand and handed over to the driver.

“Take this. Pay your wife’s hospital bill. And settle your rent. It is all I have.” He announced.

The driver collected the money with tears in his eyes. He immediately came down from the cab and knelt down to thank the pastor who had done him such great favour. The pastor lifted him up and helped wipe his tears.

As a means to keep contact, and one day attend his church with his wife, the driver collected the pastors number before driving off.

The wife of the pastor who had seen from a distance all that had happened, ran up to her husband. She saw the look on his face and immediately knew her husband had done something that would both affect them.

“Where is the fees?” She asked.

“I gave to the driver. His wife is in the hospital.” He replied.

“How much.” She inquired.

“Thirty thousand.”

The wife broke down in tears.

“Thirty thousand? In such a situation and time when we need money the most you gave out thirty thousand?”

“It was the voice of God.”

“I do not think you know the voice of God and the voice of the devil any longer. God cannot tell you to make such a drastic sacrifice. God cannot tell you to give thirty thousand to a common stranger, while our three kids are being sent home for school fees. Even God knows we need the money more than him. Why will you allow the devil use you to put us to shame? Why?” She shouted bitterly.

The children were brought out of their class rooms and made to go home with their parents until they were able to settle their fees.

It so happened that the driver that same day, was driving back home. He picked a random passenger who was just standing in front of the airport gate.

During a random conversation with the driver, the passenger announced that he was a pastor who was new in the country. He told the driver that he was sent by his church to supervise a big project which was suppose to begin in the country. But he has no one to trust who could show him around, and help him execute the project.

“I know a man. I know a man who is trust worthy. A good man. A man who had just helped me moments back. He is a pastor like you. See, he gave me thirty thousand to pay my wife’s hospital bill and also settle my rent. He gave me this money, yet he had no money to pay his children school fees. You can trust this man sir. I collected his phone number. I believe if you call him and speak with him, he would be able to help you.” The driver spoke confidently.

The pastor was convinced. He requested for the number of this pastor, whom this driver had spoke of.

“Give me his number, and I shall call him right away to meet me in my hotel. If he is trust worthy as you say, he shall handle all projects in this country, while I return back to my church. He shall be paid handsomely too.”

The call was made. The meeting between both pastors took place. An agreement was reached. A contract was initiated and signed. The pastor who had listened to the voice that spoke to him, was awarded the contract to supervise the establishment of 17 churches in the country. The pastor was also invited by the visiting pastor to come to his country to preach to his congregation too.

The life of one struggling pastor was changed in one day, because he listened to a voice and made a sacrifice.

How many times have you heard the voice speak to you, only for you to ignore it? How many times have you had that urge and feeling to help someone and you turned it down? Many have missed an opportunity that would have changed their lives forever, just because they refused to listen to that voice. They failed to make that sacrifice because they felt they needed it more. They felt the urge yet they ignored it.

May God help us not to miss that opportunity that will secure our future and destiny in life.

Don’t let this message end with you alone.

Do well to mention someone to read this story as well. Like and share the story.

Let a life somewhere be touched.
Inspiring people to be better

VALUE ADDED WIFE (VAW)

Many think that Jacob loved Rachael because she was beautiful, beauty only attracts a man to a woman but what determines his true love for a woman goes beyond beauty. Rachael was not just beautiful, she was industrious per excellent.

Why do we have a lot of beautiful ladies today yet no husband? Because beauty without value and virtue is like a smoke. What impressed and attracted Jacob to Rachael was her industriousness. While her brothers and elder sister Leah were at home, Rachael singlehandedly brought her father’s flock to the well. That was where Jacob met her for the first time. No sensible man can resist a woman who is beautiful and industrious.

What made a man worked for 7 years for the woman he loved and yet felt like he just worked for 7 days? Value! My man doesn’t respect me, is because you are not a Value-Added-Woman (VAM).

Do you realized that Jacob did not pay Leah’s bride price? They gave him Leah as bonus. Because she has no value. This was why Jacob had no respect for her and her children, hence he set them as first entourage when he was going to meet his angry brother. If you forced yourself on a man, he may never respect you. If he got you cheaply, he will never respect you. If you are not adding value to his life, he will never respect you.

Even after marriage, Leah was begging and buying the attention of her own husband. Rachael was practically in control of Jacob.

Rachael was a shepherd in the midst of her siblings, a profession meant for men. She was in control of her father’s business. This was what glued Jacob to her.

Gen 29:9 Jacob was still talking with them when Rachel arrived with her father’s flock, for she was a shepherd.

How can boys be in the house and a girl (last daughter of the house) be the one to tend her father’s flock and family business? Industriousness!

After Jacob slept with Leah, he still went for Rachael. Sex don’t keep a man, value does.

Leah had 5 children, Rachael had none, yet Jacob still loved Rachael more than Leah. Having children is good but adding value is better. Don’t ever think you can pin a man down with children. If you like give him a nation, if you are not adding value to his life, he will walk away someday.

I’m pleading with our parents not to raise their daughters in a way they will be liability to a man. Make your daughter a shepherd before her Jacob arrives. Give her a source of livelihood before marriage. If you want her husband to respect her, give her quality education and hopeful future. Don’t train her merely because of the bride price you want to collect on her head. Laban wasted the bride price he took for his daughter. But he lived on the flock kept my his daughter even after she was married out.

This is why many men fall for their ugly hardworking housemaids than their beautiful house wife. We indirectly train our housemaids to be industrious while we train our daughters to be lazy and dependants. Future will tell.

Be a Value-Added-Woman and your man will respect you.

Who is our neighbour?

According to the dictionary, neighbour is defined as the person who is living next to you; a person sitting next to you; a person in need of help; might be your brother or sister or your in-laws or your parent or child or your spouse or a stranger.
Jesus in the parable concludes that the neighbour is the one who shows mercy to the injured fellow man.

The Bible warns us in Proverbs “don’t plan any harm against your neighbor, for he trusts you and lives near you.” Whatever other commands there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
As Christians, if we know Jesus, we then have the power to love. If we have Christ, we have the ability to act in love, even though we have differences. Paul says we are obligated to love others. “Owe no man anything but to love one another.”

Christ’s love in us does not allow us to throw stones at others. Christ’s love in us will not allow us to tear others down. Christ’s love in us stops us from hating others. Christ’s love in us will not put others down. Christ’s love in us does not allow us to throw cheap shots at others.

Our biggest problem/challenge is our lack of love, our inability to love one another. Everything we know in life revolves around that problem. We may win the wars, discover new medicine, tame the wild animals, build amazing structures, speak different languages, deliver powerful sermons, send sophisticated equipment to space but we still are unable to love our neighbour.

But the love of God is radical. It will make us do the unthinkable, unimaginable, undeservable. Why? Because that’s what Christ has done for us.

God’s love is radical. The love of God, the love of Jesus and the love of the Spirit compels us, motivate us, to open up our home, to walk an extra mile, to give a cup of water, to offer two small copper coins, give away our coat, visit the lonely in the prison, hug the unlovable, share a meal who are not of our “type”….Love of Christ challenges our hearts “if anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…”

How can we love like that? Only when we humble ourselves and exalt Christ in us.

Now that is the power of Christ love. If we have Christ in us, we will never be the same again. We will be changed from inside out. God’s love will break the chains of hatred, envy and prejudice.

IGNORING GOD’S LAWS LEADS TO JUDGMENT

Zechariah 7:8-14

They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry. Zechariah 7:12, NIV

The judiciary convicts criminals and metes out appropriate punishment. Their service is required in order to clear the society of the menace of troublemakers and lawbreakers. God is the judge who pronounces judgement on lawbreakers in His kingdom.

Before the people of Judah were taken into exile, they were commanded to be just in their judgement (vs. 9a), show mercy and compassion to one another (vs. 9b), desist from oppression -particularly of the less privileged (vs. 10a) and avoid plotting evil against each other (vs. 10b). They however, decided to flaunt these four-fold instructions given to them and responded to God in an unacceptable four-fold manner. They did not pay attention (vs. 11a), they turned their backs against God (vs. 11b), covered their ears (vs. 11b), and made their hearts adamant (vs. 12a). In response, God also meted out to them a four-fold judgement: He became angry at them (vs. 12b), refused to listen to them (vs. 13), scattered them among nations (vs. 14a) and their land became desolate (vs. 14b).
For every action, there is a reaction. When a man fails to obey the instructions of God, there would always be consequences. Hope you don’t find it difficult to obey God? What are the things God has told you to do? Act on them now so that you can avoid God’s wrath.

Insight: God is an incorruptible judge.

Prayer: Lord, help me pay attention to Your instructions.

WHY DID JESUS FOLD THE NAPKIN?

This is an interesting story ..

WHY DID JESUS FOLD THE NAPKIN?

This is one I can honestly say I have never seen circulating in the social media; so, if it touches you, you may want to share it.

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection?

The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes.

The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed separate from the grave clothes.

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!’ Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside.. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side.

Was that important? Absolutely!

Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished.

Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table.

The servant would then know it was time to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m done”.

But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because………..

The folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

He is Coming Back!

For those of us who still read the Bible, we know of this. However, I thought we should share this with those, who may have forgotten the significance of the folded napkin.

Please share this with all of your contacts. They would enjoy reading and being reminded of His second coming.
He is coming back.’!!!

Are you ready?

Jesus napkin at the grave

Wall Of Reference

Text: Joshua 6v1″Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the Children of Israel; none went out, and none came in”.

The Great Deliverer, we worship You today. Make us living testimonies, & grant us freedom from different forms of bondages in Jesus Name .

Everyone needs a positive, & motivating reference point daily. More of personal testimonies to hold on to, about God’s faithfulness as we forge ahead.

Life has different walls that halts progress at every phase. They could be visible or invisible Giants & mountains. If you’re able to level them, you’ll become a Made Page (Neh 4v1-23).

These walls could range from poor financial stance to execute viable projects; having to face daunting competitors, handling staff who only care about stomach infrastructure (Jn 6v26-29).

Be that as it may, we have a God that has helped people convert their walls to bridges. Approach Him with all humility & prayerfully, to surmount your challenges (Matt 7v7-8).

At different Intervals, slavery took the center stage for the Israelites. Their freedom inconvenienced foes, hence, barricades were mounted.

However, God was about them. In fact, He made Rahab the harlot a consular for the Israelites in Jericho, & they got the much needed victory (Josh 6v12-27).

Listen up, you won’t be a slave forever. Your freedom will come & you’ll achieve tangible success that’ll motivate others. But, underestimate no one. God can use a truck pusher, for you to be great.

In the meantime, fill your heart with beautiful memories of what God did for you, or others. Your sanity is imperative. Do not fidget about their theatrics, you’re next in line for a miracle in Jesus Name.

Prayer: LORD JESUS, cancel Inertia in my life, give me success in Jesus Name.

MORE UNDERSTANDING OF DISCIPLINE

MORE UNDERSTANDING OF DISCIPLINE

The stretching of oneself to achieve desired objectives is called discipline. There can be no reach without a stretch; to reach anywhere in life, you must stretch to get there. There is no prize without price.

SCRIPTURE: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Discipline is the delaying of gratification for the establishment of distinction.

Earlier, we saw that discipline is doing what is required to get at what is desired. It is doing what it takes to get to where you want to be. If the top is your desire, then what to do to get there is called discipline.

Today we shall be gaining more understanding of the subject of discipline. 

What then is discipline on the journey of excellence?

  1. Discipline implies a life under control, rule, routine or schedule (1 Corinthians 9:27).

When we say a man is disciplined, it means that his life is under control; he is a man of rules, routines and schedules. 

On the other hand, when we say a man lacks discipline, it means his life is out of control; no rule governs his life; he has no set of routines, no schedule. He can jump into a car going to Lagos when a friend invites him suddenly.

  1. Discipline implies the stretching of oneself to achieve desired objectives (1 Kings 17:21). 

The stretching of oneself to achieve desired objectives is called discipline. There can be no reach without a stretch; to reach anywhere in life, you must stretch to get there. There is no prize without price.

  1. Discipline is saying NO to the unprofitable and saying YES to the profitable (Luke 9:23).

Discipline is the delaying of gratification for the establishment of distinction. There are things that are legitimate but not profitable (1 Cor. 10:23). Apostle Paul said, all things are lawful for me but all things are not expedient. For example, if you eat every morning, you didn’t break any law and no one can take you to a court of law. But for the sake of your future and destiny, there is a need to fast and pray once in a while in order to realise your destiny.

Remember this: Discipline is the delaying of gratification for the establishment of distinction.

The stretching of oneself to achieve desired objectives is called discipline. There can be no reach without a stretch; to reach anywhere in life, you must stretch to get there. There is no prize without price.

SCRIPTURE: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Discipline is the delaying of gratification for the establishment of distinction.

Earlier, we saw that discipline is doing what is required to get at what is desired. It is doing what it takes to get to where you want to be. If the top is your desire, then what to do to get there is called discipline.

Today we shall be gaining more understanding of the subject of discipline. 

What then is discipline on the journey of excellence?

  1. Discipline implies a life under control, rule, routine or schedule (1 Corinthians 9:27).

When we say a man is disciplined, it means that his life is under control; he is a man of rules, routines and schedules. 

On the other hand, when we say a man lacks discipline, it means his life is out of control; no rule governs his life; he has no set of routines, no schedule. He can jump into a car going to Lagos when a friend invites him suddenly.

  1. Discipline implies the stretching of oneself to achieve desired objectives (1 Kings 17:21). 

The stretching of oneself to achieve desired objectives is called discipline. There can be no reach without a stretch; to reach anywhere in life, you must stretch to get there. There is no prize without price.

  1. Discipline is saying NO to the unprofitable and saying YES to the profitable (Luke 9:23).

Discipline is the delaying of gratification for the establishment of distinction. There are things that are legitimate but not profitable (1 Cor. 10:23). Apostle Paul said, all things are lawful for me but all things are not expedient. For example, if you eat every morning, you didn’t break any law and no one can take you to a court of law. But for the sake of your future and destiny, there is a need to fast and pray once in a while in order to realise your destiny.

Remember this: Discipline is the delaying of gratification for the establishment of distinction.

The Sanctified Life

God Tests Those Whom He Values

Daniel 6:10. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

The fact that we are called upon to endure trial proves that the Lord Jesus sees in us something very precious, which He desires to develop. If He saw in us nothing whereby He might glorify His name He would not spend time in refining us. We do not take special pains in pruning brambles. Christ does not cast worthless stones into His furnace. It is valuable ore that He tests.

To men whom God designs shall fill responsible positions, He in mercy reveals their hidden defects, that they may look within and examine critically the complicated emotions and exercises of their own hearts, and detect that which is wrong; thus they may modify their dispositions and refine their manners. The Lord in His providence brings men where He can test their moral powers and reveal their motives of action, that they may improve what is right in themselves and put away that which is wrong. God would have His servants become acquainted with the moral machinery of their own hearts. In order to bring this about, He often permits the fire of affliction to assail them that they may become purified. “But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2,3 4

God leads His people on, step by step. He brings them up to different points calculated to manifest what is in the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advanced point the heart is tested and tried a little closer. If the professed people of God find their hearts opposed to this straight work, it should convince them that they have a work to do to overcome, if they would not be spewed out of the mouth of the Lord.

Just as soon as we realize our inability to do God’s work and submit to be guided by His wisdom, the Lord can work with us. If we will empty the soul of self, He will supply all our necessities.

What Money Can’t Buy.

Proverb:
The rich also cry.

Some years ago,I asked my doctor” What will it cost for me, to regain my health?” and he said to me,”money can’t do it only God can do it”

Jeremiah 33:6
“ ‘Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.

Health is one of the crucial things in life money can’t buy. No matter how rich you are, even if you are a billionaire, you can never trade your money for health.

The last word of Bob Marley was “Money Can’t Buy life”

Money Can’t but health all the money in the world can’t undo the damage caused by smoking, Cancer,drug abuse,sex act, and a thousand other health problems which distroy one’s quality of life.

When Alexander The Great, after conquering kingdoms returning to his country, he fell ill that led him to his deathbed. He gathered his generals and told them, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.”

The king asked his general to abide by these last wishes:

1) The king of Macedon said, “My physicians alone must only carry my coffin.”

2) “I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be filled with the wealth that I collected,” the king said.

3) “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept hanging out of my coffin,” Alexander said.

The generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes and asked him the reason for doing so. Alexander said, “I want the world know the three lessons I have just learnt.” The king interpreted his wishes and continued; “I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor on this earth can really cure anybody. They are helpless in front of death.”

Describing his second wish, the king said: “I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people know that wealth is nothing but dust.” Thirdly, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and I will go empty-handed.”

We have 3 prayers to pray today:

1.I bind and I cast out any sickness in my body without consideration for their name, for it is written I shall decree a thing and it shall be established therefore I regain my sound health in Jesus name.

2.My body is a temple of God therefore sickness and infirmity whither in the name of Jesus

3.I declare it loud and clear by the stripes of our lord Jesus Christ, I am healed in the name of Jesus

The Life and Sermons of Robert Murray McCheyne

Robert Murray McCheyne died a young man, yet his achievements were broad, and his significance is consequently substantial and diverse. The focus for this paper is the ‘Life and Sermons’, and therefore I will focus particularly on McCheyne the preacher. His importance in this area is more than sufficient to justify serious and sustained attention, as I will particularly aim to demonstrate, especially to those unfamiliar with the quality of McCheyne’s sermons. Indeed, I aim to show that he is one of the great lights of the nineteenth-century pulpit, and consequently one with plenty to teach the preachers of today.

With such a focus, inevitably some areas of interest from McCheyne’s life must be left for other occasions. In particular, it will not be possible to address at any length McCheyne the pastor and personal evangelist; the man of prayer; the lover of the Jews and co-founder of what later became Christian Witness to Israel; the explorer of the Middle East and co-pioneer of the Scottish mission to Budapest; or the one who experienced blessed revival on his return to Dundee. All would make stirring articles; but right now, let us focus above all on McCheyne the preacher of the Word of God.

In structure: I will briefly introduce my approach to McCheyne in the context of Christian biography; then (I) outline the life, especially as it relates to his initial development as a preacher; (II) conduct a general analysis of McCheyne the preacher on the basis of the evidence we have in the extant published sermons; and (III) draw out some key practical lessons for modern preachers to apply from McCheyne’s example. Note that I will draw most of my examples for this paper from the three recent volumes of hitherto unpublished material printed by the Banner of Truth: Old Testament Sermons,1 New Testament Sermons,2 and Sermons on Hebrews,3 especially the first two of these, for reasons that will become clear as we proceed.

Introduction: McCheyne and Christian Biography

Hagiography is the curse of Christian biography, and nowhere more evidently than in the posthumous study of Robert Murray McCheyne. He towers before us now, in the mind’s eye, the powerfully zealous, wonderfully blessed, startlingly young minister of St Peter’s, Dundee, ever immortalised as a Presbyterian Saint. The frequent quotations we hear in sermons are invariably prefaced: ‘the great . . .’, ‘the holy . . .’, ‘the saintly Murray McCheyne’, and with good reason. McCheyne’s biography is a stirring, humbling record of Christian endeavour and achievement; a minister who did more in 29 short years of life than most who double or treble that lifespan. The diary extracts reveal even in private life a burning passion for holiness, an earnest longing to win souls, a passion for the glory of Christ. Further from the stipend-lifting Moderate it would be hard to travel.

But the problem with hagiography is the application. Too often wonder becomes the end point, and we are left like the Romanist giving credit to the person, building our pantheon of small gods who can and do only serve to divert our praise from the one Perfect Man, the Lord Jesus. A subject portrayed at length without identifiable fault borders on blasphemy in attributing to man what is true only of Christ. In terms of promoting emulation, which is surely the point of Christian biography, such leads only to despair. How can I ‘be holy like McCheyne’, when all I read of McCheyne is holiness, when in fact the ‘McCheyne’ we know is a fictional creation, gently sanitised by his loving biographer from the taint of everyday sin?

Two solutions present themselves. First, I intend to take my life in my hands, and diverge from virtually every biographer of McCheyne in drawing a couple of negative as well as some positive lessons from McCheyne’s life-work as a preacher of the gospel. And second, in drawing positive lessons, let us remember McCheyne’s own remark on a saint of an earlier generation, Jonathan Edwards: ‘How feeble does my spark of Christianity appear beside such a sun! But even his was a borrowed light, and the same source is still open to enlighten me’. Therefore let us attribute the qualities we admire in McCheyne to the sanctification of the Spirit, and pray for the same. Pray, if I may say so, even to want to love the souls of men as much as McCheyne, and pre-eminently, to love Christ himself.

I. The Life of McCheyne: The Development of a Preacher

McCheyne was born in 1813 into a prosperous middle-class family in the New Town area of Edinburgh. His father, Adam, was a Writer to the Signet, a Government law officer, and the family worshipped at the Edinburgh Tron Church, on the Royal Mile. The ministers there were Moderates, not radically unorthodox, but not evangelical: they failed to give the central place in preaching to the cross of Christ; rather, their message was primarily one of good works. Robert was educated at the High School of Edinburgh, and proceeded to commence his studies at Edinburgh University aged just 14, at the time quite a normal progression. There his abilities were regarded as only above average rather than exceptional, but he possessed a particular aptitude for poetic and literary study, gifts which are certainly reflected in his subsequent sermons.

Around the time McCheyne commenced university, the family changed churches, moving to St Stephen’s congregation in the New Town, where the minister William Muir had a more evangelical reputation. This seems to reflect the increasingly earnest spiritual interest of some of Robert’s older siblings, which in turn influenced their parents. However, biographer Leen van Valen stresses that Muir is best described as a ‘middle way’ minister, not being fully Christ-centred in his message, as his extant sermons testify. Only later, after Robert became a minister, did the McCheyne family settle permanently under a robustly scriptural ministry, that of his friend Alexander Moody Stuart, who pastored the new congregation of St Luke’s from 1835 onwards, and subsequently led the majority into the Free Church in 1843. Indeed, Adam McCheyne became the first session clerk after the Disruption.

Robert joined the congregation of St Stephens, but though morally upright, remained a worldly young man, enjoying parties, dancing and card-playing, occupations which he later condemned as unworthy of the Christian’s attention. He seems to have remained half-hearted in his commitment to spiritual things, until the crisis brought about by the death of his older brother David in 1831, when Robert was 18. David had become a decided believer, and frequently witnessed to Robert of the need for earnestness regarding the things of eternity. His death precipitated a spiritual crisis in which, over a period of a few months, Robert wrestled with the need to rest on Christ for salvation rather than his own upright life. He was helped to assurance by reading The Sum of Saving Knowledge, a document reportedly authored by the great Scottish Puritans David Dickson and James Durham, usually bound with the Westminster Confession of Faith, describing how to appropriate the blessings of Christ and the Covenant of Grace. The Sum is notable for its clear discussion of the Law as convicting of sin, and of the Gospel as proclaiming Christ the solution, and this crucial division is evident in many of McCheyne’s sermons. McCheyne knew much of his own sin; especially in his diary extracts we find him repeatedly wrestling with his love of the praise of man, but he discovered what it was to cast himself on the righteousness of another.

Therefore the crucial early influence on McCheyne the developing preacher was not intellectual or moral, but spiritual, the power of the Spirit of God, and the reality of this experience remained with him throughout his life. He preached Law and Gospel with power and clarity precisely because he had personal experimental knowledge of them.

While still undergoing this spiritual crisis, Robert commenced his study of divinity at Edinburgh in preparation for the ministry of the Church of Scotland. This brought him into contact with a second great influence: the celebrated Professor of Divinity at Edinburgh, Thomas Chalmers. Chalmers was a brilliant intellect, but also a powerful spiritual influence, a Moderate minister dramatically converted to Evangelical faith, and now using the chair he had obtained to teach the next generation of Scottish ministers the theology of reconciliation by the death of Christ, received by faith in him. McCheyne was thrilled by his lectures, but was also challenged by the personal influence of Chalmers to consider the practical side of Christian work. He and some of the other students took on visitation work in the slums of the Old Town of Edinburgh, which horrified him by the extent of the need revealed.

But there was a third crucial influence on the young student. Following his conversion experience, he no longer had an appetite for the half-hearted evangelicalism of William Muir, and he settled for the rest of his student days under a more decided ministry, that of John Bruce at the New North Church, who unlike Muir would enter the Free Church at the Disruption. Bruce was a celebrated preacher, and the Free Church Annals give a gloriously Victorian portrait of Bruce’s pulpit work:

As a preacher, Dr Bruce had a success in some respects unique. His discourses, closely read with a strong Forfarshire accent, were pervaded by a Miltonic splendour of conception and majesty of diction. Students of the greatest intellectual power were attracted by his preaching, and his ministry proved helpful to men who otherwise stood in no friendly relation to the Christian church.

Two things are clear from that description. Under Bruce, McCheyne heard masterful preaching, but also experienced what a truly powerful influence the pulpit could have, even on those initially hostile to its message. There can be no doubt that his commitment to thorough, careful preparation of his sermons was rooted in the quality of ministry he heard in student days in Edinburgh.

Now let us briefly outline McCheyne’s ministry. In 1835, he was licensed to preach, and accepted an invitation to labour as an assistant to the Rev John Bonar of Larbert and Dunipace. For a year, he preached alternately in the two churches, and visited extensively throughout the parish. But a more extensive ministry was calling, and in November 1836 he was ordained and inducted to the new parish of St Peter’s, at that time covering the West end of the city of Dundee. Here he laboured in a vast parish with a large urban population, many of whom did not attend church. Even so, the gathered congregation frequently numbered more than a thousand people, a most demanding charge for a man of 23. He was methodical and diligent in his visitation, yet the quality of his sermons did not suffer, and he remained careful to prepare rigorously for the pulpit. McCheyne worked hard, but saw only limited fruit after two years of unrelenting labour.

By the end of 1838, he was exhausted and ill, and his doctors advised a complete rest, and he moved back to Edinburgh to stay in the family home. It was at this time that McCheyne undertook his famous journey to Palestine with Andrew Bonar and two other colleagues. Limits of space prevent us addressing that mission any further, except to note that McCheyne’s thorough knowledge of the geography of the Holy Land was an evident aid to his preaching. He returned to Dundee at the end of 1839 to find that revival had blossomed under the young supply preacher, William Chalmers Burns.

The final stage of McCheyne’s ministry was a three-year period of rich blessing and much fruit under his preaching, both in Dundee and elsewhere, even as the Ten Years Conflict between Church and State drew towards its climax. McCheyne signed the Solemn Engagement of 1842, and as one of the commissioners to the 1843 General Assembly, was ready then to honour that commitment in departing from an Established Church under the tyranny of the State, but the Lord had other plans. In March 1843, after months of ceaseless activity in connection with his ongoing ministry and the impending Disruption, he sickened, and after less than two weeks of growing weakness, he died on 25th March, to universal mourning. He was not yet 30 years old.

II. The Sermons of McCheyne: The Flowering of a Preacher

You may be surprised to learn that opinions on the value of McCheyne’s sermons differ. I am told that my late grandmother from Lewis used to turn by preference to the sermons of Spurgeon and McCheyne for spiritual feeding, and many of the Lord’s people have found the same nourishment in these messages. But a recent biographer, David Robertson, writes in disparaging terms: ‘When one reads McCheyne’s sermons, there is not a great deal that is outstanding. His leadership gifts were strong, but had largely to mature’. Later he adds, ‘McCheyne’s sermons were not literary classics and they generally do not translate well to the printed page’, and further comments: ‘His “success” cannot be gleaned from published written material, much of which will only appeal to those who are already convinced of his “sainthood”’. He goes on to propose as a question for discussion: ‘Is it worthwhile publishing sermons?’. This rather suggests that he considers the value of any published sermons to be open to question, an attitude genuinely astonishing from a professedly Reformed pastor. I fear the explanation is Robertson’s view of preaching as a display of ‘leadership gifts’, rather than faithful exposition of the Word and application of it to the conscience, something sadly rare in our day. I would rather concur with the view of Maurice Roberts expressed in his preface to the reprinted volume of sermons, From the Preacher’s Heart: ‘They are the workmanship of a McCheyne, exquisite sermons in miniature, the fruits of a spiritual genius’.

Most republished McCheyne sermons, including the three volumes from the Banner of Truth, are the notes of the preacher himself, and are remarkable for their fullness. There is also a published volume of notes by a hearer, entitled A Basket of Fragments, while a Banner paperback, simply called Sermons,4 contains a selection of both kinds, although it is remarkable how little difference there is between material from either source. This might lead one to think that McCheyne read his sermons, as some celebrated preachers of his day including Chalmers and Bruce, or that he recited them following exact memorisation, as his contemporary James Begg always did. Rather, McCheyne’s pattern was very full written preparation, but with thorough revision only, rather than memorisation of the manuscript, and final delivery from the pulpit without any paper at all, so that his thoughts were prepared, but his language flowed freely. The result was popular preaching appreciated in his own day, but also a legacy of full-length and often very readable manuscripts.

The actual sermons, very typically of the age, fall into two categories: sermons proper and expository lectures. Many Scottish preachers delivered such lectures on the Sabbath morning, and preached in the evening. The ‘lectures’ were not the detached academic presentations we associate with the term, but rather a lighter, less formal kind of sermon, usually derived from a straightforward New Testament passage, following the course of the passage for the divisions, with simple explanation and application of the text, and, crucially, usually involving consecutive exposition from week to week. McCheyne delivered extant courses of lectures from sections of Matthew, John, 1 Peter (found in NT Sermons) and Hebrews (most of the volume Sermons on Hebrews). The notes are noticeably briefer, plainer and simpler. The sermons proper were rather textual, rarely having any connection with that of the preceding week. They are much more fully prepared, including thorough explanation of the context, discussion of the meaning of key terms, illustrations, and extensive application.

In terms of textual selection, McCheyne ranged over the whole Bible, more often in the New Testament than the Old, more in the epistles, especially Romans and Hebrews, than in the Gospels, although there were plenty messages from all four Evangelists. In the Old Testament, which made up about one third of his texts, his favourite books were Isaiah, Psalms, and the Song of Solomon. He preached only rarely from the Pentateuch and Historical books, but often incorporated illustrations from these accounts into sermons from other passages.

In structure, McCheyne closely followed the text of the passage, seeking to divide in a natural and logical manner, which usually allows him to work progressively through the preaching portion. Introductions are succinct, and intended to focus the attention of the congregation on the content of the passage that is to be studied, and prepare for the division into heads. On one occasion, he literally just commences: ‘There are three things contained in these words’ (Sermons on Hebrews, 115). Under each head, the material is divided under further sub-heads, making the development of the preacher’s thought exceedingly clear and easy to follow. Usually the head will identify a topic in the text, which is then developed more broadly in the sub-heads, with the discussion not focussed exclusively on the passage but ranging over other texts of Scripture as appropriate. For example, on the institution of the Lord’s Supper from Matthew 26:26, the first head is ‘Jesus took bread’, developed under sub-heads as ‘The choosing of Christ’, ‘the incarnation of Christ’; the second head ‘He blessed it’, developed as ‘He prepared a body’, ‘He anointed him’, ‘He gave him the tongue of the learned’, and ‘He held him by the hand’; third head ‘He brake’, developed similarly; fourth ‘He gave’ – the symbolism of the sacrament being opened up and shown to relate to many different texts of Scripture in a most edifying way.

From this, it will be clear that McCheyne, for all his linguistic gifts, was not an intensive expositor, a Jonathan Edwards, peeling off layer after layer of meaning from his text, burrowing into it like the surgeon with the scalpel. Rather he is a Scottish Spurgeon, a discursive preacher, treating the text like a lens through which to study the whole field of relevant scriptural teaching. If Edwards places his texts on the dissecting table and patiently eviscerates them, McCheyne rather uses his text as a light source directed at the prism of Holy Scripture, opening up a whole spectrum of rich teaching from it.

To come to practicalities, you would not use a McCheyne sermon as a substitute commentary on a text of Scripture, but could definitely use it to help ignite your passion for the subject, after the groundwork of exegesis has been laid.

Application is crucial to a McCheyne sermon, and is present throughout. Although he invariably concludes with forceful application, he also applies under each head, often bringing each head to a close with a direct and personal appeal. His application is pointed, powerful, passionate, very specific to the individual subject and yet with cumulative effect, as the evangelistic urgency in particular burns through sermon after sermon. Although McCheyne evidently loved to preach Christ to the unsaved, there is a good balance between evangelistic and pastoral messages evident in the collections, and he is just as at home urging gratitude and constancy on believers as he is pressing the urgency of seeking Christ on the unbelieving. There is a clear division between messages directed at the saved and at the unsaved, and from this it may reasonably be presumed that where the sermon at one end of the Sabbath addressed the needs of the Christian, the other would be a specific, targeted evangelistic message. In general, I have found the expository lectures, probably delivered on Sabbath mornings, to be more often addressed to the believer – simple, homely, encouraging messages of Christian teaching – and the sermons to be evangelistic, although there are many exceptions to this rule. McCheyne did not flinch from directness, for all his youth, and his application is always addressed to ‘you’.

His style is simple, yet full of rhetorical energy: questions, challenges, objections anticipated and answered robustly, relevant texts quoted with conviction and authority. In terms of illustration, he never uses ‘stories’; rather, he deploys succinct but potent word-pictures, often biblical images clothed in fresh language. Anything like joking or flippancy is utterly excluded – the tone is sober, earnest, urgent throughout, illustration serving the purpose of the preaching, not distracting from it. Consider his description of the new convert’s first experience of falling into sin: ‘You may have seen some bird of noble plumage rising from the earth on swift, careering wing; he leaves behind him the dull clods of the earth and soars to heaven as if it were his native element, when suddenly the whizzing bullet pierces his feathered side. On the instant all his noble energy is gone, he droops the head and covers the wing and whirling, falls from his dizzy height, down to the earth again. Just so the believer is exalted to heaven by the sweet peace wherewith the sprinkled blood has filled his soul, breathing a purer atmosphere, beginning now to think that heaven is gained; but suddenly the arrow of the Wicked One pierces his side and he falls. Ah! How low, who can tell? Who can tell the misery of the believer’s first sin?’

Or for a specifically biblical image, hear this description of the believer’s hope: ‘The hope that makes not ashamed, the anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast, that enters within the veil, that is riveted on the golden shore of a blessed eternity’. It is thrilling, potent language: ‘riveted on the golden shore of a blessed eternity’, all the poetic gifts of the young student of literature harnessed to the work of the Kingdom of Christ!

What, fundamentally, was special about McCheyne the preacher? I think what lent him his power was the reality of experience that underlay his sermons. He was experimental, in the best sense, like the Puritans, the Covenanters, like the apostles themselves, he spoke of what he knew. This functioned with regard to the reality of sin, for example on the danger of the sin of adultery:

Many may be ready to say, ‘Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?’ But those of you who know the hell that is within will tremblingly keep near to God and say, Lead me not into temptation. Given opportunity on the one hand, and Satan tempting on the other, and the grace of God at neither, where should you and I be?

Or on the believer who is betrayed into worldly company:

From the beginning to the end of the feast, he hears nothing but worldly conversation. All around him people are taking thought what they shall eat or what they shall drink. The name of the Saviour is not once mentioned. To introduce it would be like bringing in a poisonous serpent, from which every one would shrink back with horror. The believer sits silent, and is half ashamed of Christ. He is ashamed to show that he is a Christian. And when he comes home at night, what wonder if prayer and the Word be all distasteful to him, and he has lost all sense of safety.

This is experimental teaching that reflects real life, real sin. It is searingly honest.

But there is another side to this too: hear the experimental comfort of these words to the believer anxious over the reality of sin:

Even Christians are filled with shame, when they look only on themselves and what they have been. But when they look to Christ, their shame is forgotten. There are two reasons: (1) Their sins, they see, are fully accounted for in the sufferings of Christ; more fully than if they themselves had suffered eternally. (2) They see that they are righteous in God’s sight, that God loves them, how can they be ashamed anymore? They have ‘no more conscience of sins’ (Heb.10:2), like those in Heaven who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb (Rev.7:14). They remember their sins but they are not ashamed. Even here, insofar as you live by faith, you may live without shame.

This teaching is experimental in the best sense, rooted and grounded in the experience of grace.

The historian of preaching, William Garden Blaikie, summed up the uniqueness of McCheyne’s pulpit work as follows:

The new element he brought into the pulpit, or rather which he revived and used so much that it appeared new, was winsomeness. It was an almost feminine quality. A pity, that turned many of his sermons into elegiac poems, thrilled his heart, and by the power of the Spirit imparted the thrill to many souls.5

He had the warmth of sympathy of one who knew what it was to walk in life trusting in morality, called a Christian but without a real change. He knew the value of grace, the change it brings, and therefore he spoke with experimental warmth, love, and passion, which gave to his message a winning, winsome quality that so touched those who heard him, that under the sovereign influence of the Spirit, it was the means of salvation to many.

To illustrate my discussion of McCheyne’s preaching, I have chosen an exemplary sermon, an Old Testament evangelistic message, on the ‘Cities of Refuge’ from Joshua 20. The message commences with a lively introduction expressing in dramatic terms the Israelite’s anticipation of Christ through the various types: ‘When he stood beside the smitten rock and saw the waters gush out and follow them day by day, a mighty river running through a desert, he thought with joy of the Saviour who is “as rivers of water in a dry place”.’

So the manna, the pillar-cloud, the serpent raised, all lead to the crucial assertion, which determines the whole course of the message: ‘The cities of refuge were intended to set forth Jesus’. He then gives his first head as follows: ‘They were like Christ in situation’, sub-divided ‘in nearness’ and ‘in being conspicuous’, showing how these characteristics are reflected in Christ. The latter is especially graphic in describing the geography of the six cities, emphasising their visibility, leading to the thrilling passage:

It seems probable that there was scarcely a place in the land from which you could not spy one of these refuge cities. So that, when the believing Israelite went out to meditate like Isaac at eventide, when he saw the sun gleaming on the fruitful top of Gerizim, or the white walls of Hebron, or the far off tower of Bezer in the wilderness, or the embowered dwellings of Ramoth-gilead, or the snow on the high hill of Bashan, every one seemed a witness for Christ. Every one had a tongue and said ‘Come unto me, and I will give you rest’.

This leads him to wonderfully direct application:

This shows the heart of God toward you. He wants you to come to a lifted-up Christ on the cross and on the throne. Christ is a lifted-up Saviour in the preached word, that any sinner may flee to Him and be safe. Oh come to a lifted-up Christ!

The second head is, ‘They were like Christ in ease of access’, developed in the ‘roads’, the ‘waymarks’ and the ‘open gates’, each sub-point being individually applied and pressed with tremendous cumulative force. The third head is, ‘They were like Christ in the safety found there’, developed in the ‘Safety obtained on entering’, ‘Safety for Jew and Stranger’, and ‘Instruction to be found there’ – that is, the role of these cities as residences for the Levites. His closing application is a direct challenge to two specific groups: first to awakened persons seeking Christ only with slackness, whom he compares to fleers from the avenger of blood loitering on the way, still outside the city gates. The final challenge is to believers themselves, not forgotten amidst a focussed, specifically evangelistic message, warning them briefly in closing to abide within the city, to cleave to Christ.

Throughout, the sermon is characterised by vivid language and passion in commending Christ, and in this sense compares closely in character and quality with the finest sermons of C. H. Spurgeon. The clarity with which the Old Testament is read as Christian Scripture, the vigour with which the faith of the Old Testament saints is shown to rest on Christ, the directness of the type in its prophetic illustration of the salvation of Christ, all serve to make this a powerful, memorable discourse, evangelistic, challenging, and yet rich, edifying reading for the believer. David Robertson may disparage them, but McCheyne’s written sermons still speak to us today.

III. The Preaching of McCheyne: The Lessons from a Preacher

I intend to bring eight short but important lessons, both positive and negative, from the life of McCheyne. I trust I need scarcely add that as the youngest of preachers I apply these first of all to myself, and have much to do yet to put them into practice.

1. HE CHALLENGES YOU TO POSITIVITY REGARDING THE YOUNG

McCheyne lived and died a young man. In terms of the Free Church Continuing, at 29 he could still have been a regular at the Arbroath Youth Weekend. And yet see the depth of understanding, the spiritual maturity, the seasoned understanding of the crests and troughs of Christian experience revealed throughout these sermons. When you remember that some messages are dated as early as 1836, when he was just 23, these books are a real challenge to those of you whose instinctive prescription to any young man wrestling with a call to devote his life to preaching the Gospel is to ‘get more life experience’. If McCheyne had followed that counsel, he might never have preached at all. Equally, they are a rebuke to you whose expectations of young people are little more than that they keep quiet and listen. Certainly let all of us be teachable, the young above all, but equally let pastors especially cherish high expectations of their young members, that they will advance rapidly in godliness, will develop and demonstrate an earnest and intelligent commitment to the principles of Scripture and of Reformed theology, and will edify in turn the rest of the congregation.

2. HE CHALLENGES YOU TO DILIGENCE IN PULPIT PREPARATION

These manuscripts were not composed for publication; rather they are merely standard preparation for regular pulpit duties from week to week. How thoroughly and carefully McCheyne prepared to preach the Word of God! What wonder if these full, thoughtful, meticulous manuscripts laid a foundation for preaching that thrilled and excited congregations? What wonder if scrappy notes, key words that just rely on the inspiration of the moment for the language to clarify and explain, familiar and well-worn lines of application, tend to elicit more yawns than active response from congregations? And remember that when he came to the pulpit, there was no manuscript needed at all, just an open Bible and the eyes of his hearers.

3. HE CHALLENGES YOU TO PREPARE EXCLUSIVELY EVANGELISTIC SERMONS

It is easy to fall into the trap of imagining that the really great sermons are those that delve into the profoundest depths of Christian doctrine, or that brim with clever insights into obscure passages of Scripture. But remember Lloyd-Jones’ observation, that the hardest preaching of all is preaching to win the lost to Christ. Here is McCheyne, the finest of preachers, and yet easily half his sermons are addressed specifically to the unbelieving, with the simple purpose of urgently pressing upon them the way of salvation in Jesus. In exhibiting that task done, continually, faithfully, and yet always with freshness and vigour, McCheyne exhibits for us the true Christian preacher. Never let yourself get sidetracked from the regular work of the Kingdom by anything else, however worthy. Be as Paul, reasoning ‘of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come’. If we are known for nothing else as preachers, let us strive to be known as those who continually, earnestly, lovingly, set forth salvation in Christ Jesus, and press men towards it.

4. HE CHALLENGES YOU TO PASSION IN PREACHING ETERNAL REALITIES

McCheyne could not be casual in setting forth the danger of remaining outside Christ. He spoke with unmistakeable, at times even uncomfortable boldness and frankness of the horrors of eternal wrath against sin:

In heaven, we shall see the wrath of God poured out upon the Christless; we shall see their pale, dismal faces, we shall hear their sad cries and the gnashing of their teeth; we shall see the smoke of their torment ascending up before God forever. Oh, how shall we praise God for his electing love that chose us to salvation! How all believers shall praise Christ for his redeeming love, for enduring such pains in our stead!

Such a subject was real to McCheyne, and thus was made real in the preaching to his hearers, to an extent tragically rare in our day. Equally, the joys of Heaven, the glory of Christ, and the eternal love of God were all profoundly real in his handling. Perhaps if you and I preached these truths with more conviction, more passion, we would see more fruit.

5. HE CHALLENGES YOU TO PREACH FROM EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST

Perhaps this lesson must stand above all. McCheyne’s sermons are thoroughly experimental, grounded in real experience, and especially in experience of knowing Christ as Saviour and Lord. This does not require continual reference to ‘me, myself and I’; rather, it calls for preaching that has felt that of which it speaks. Hear these words and consider if they could come with any conviction without a foundation in experience, on union with Christ:

Oh! What infinite honour that the Son of God should leave the bosom of the Father and propose so close, so mysterious, so blessed a union as this, with base and sinful worms, ‘whose cottages are of clay, and who are crushed before the moth’. Oh! If there is one thing more wonderful in the whole world than this, it is that any one of us, base-born worms of a day, should refuse a union of such unspeakable grace.

See how the certainty that can only arise from real personal experience gives weight and point to the message.

6. HE CHALLENGES YOU TO A SENSIBLE BIBLICAL BALANCE IN PREACHING

McCheyne had some singular views. He was fascinated by eschatology, and held like the Bonars to a form of premillenialism influenced by Edward Irving. He was passionately concerned for the evangelism of the Jews, was fiercely opposed to Moderatism in all its guises, and held strongly to the Establishment Principle. Yet it is striking how little that is controversial finds a place in his preaching. His primary concern is emphatically with dealing with the souls of men, and all else is secondary. His preaching portions show a reasonable balance throughout Scripture, if anything tending to avoid apocalyptic books like Daniel and Revelation, except for his famous series on the Seven Churches of Asia. You all know that there are preachers with a tendency to have bees in the bonnet, pet subjects always good for a few minutes of filler when the sermon is not flowing. Romanism is all too often used in this way, a safe subject for a good rant, and such preachers find Jesuits and Illuminati lurking behind the most innocuous of texts. And so the congregation settle back for a familiar tirade against papists, sodomites, abortionists, textual critics, and other groups notable chiefly for their absence from the gathered congregation. In the light of McCheyne’s example, such stuff should be seen for what it is, a pointless abuse of precious pulpit time. Address what is relevant to the subject, and address it when you have something worthwhile to say.

Now for the negative lessons:

7. HE CHALLENGES YOU TO PREACH AS YOU ARE GIFTED BY GOD

McCheyne’s sermons are not consistent in their quality. His sermons proper are good, sometimes truly wonderful; but his expository lectures are overall quite average in their content. Though full of solid Christian teaching, they are without real sparkle, vigour or striking insight. Indeed the change in NT Sermons from the textual sermons of the first half, to the long series of lectures on 1 Peter is a startling change of pace and of quality. The explanation is patently obvious: McCheyne had no real proficiency in consecutive exposition. He is a Spurgeon rather than a Lloyd-Jones, a discursive rather than an expository preacher, a devotee of the telescope rather than the microscope. Going through 1 Peter, he treats every chosen portion as a distinct unit, conveys no sense of ongoing themes, or of a developing argument, and consequently is very hit-and-miss. On some passages, as on 2:9, he gains real traction, and preaches powerfully; but others are quite ordinary messages, such as any competent preacher might produce. Some of the loveliest passages have no relevance to 1 Peter, and merely use the text as a springboard from which to discuss some aspect of the whole field of Scripture, such as on 2:3, ‘if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious’, where he heads straight into showing that Scripture compares the exercise of faith to each of the five senses in turn, which he uses as divisions. That is not wrong, but neither is it conducive to a consistent quality of consecutive exposition. The lectures on Hebrews are better, but I suspect only because the subject matter so passionately interested McCheyne, so that many portions inspire good individual messages. Play to your own strengths as a preacher, and do not fall into the trap of boring your congregation by trying to preach long expository series if God equipped you rather to be a good textual preacher.

8. HE CHALLENGES YOU TO SAFEGUARD YOUR OWN HEALTH

McCheyne worked himself into an early grave. Even in 1843, fit young men of 29 without any chronic illness did not routinely expire. From his earliest days of ministry, he made it his practice never to refuse an invitation to preach. Even Bonar, the gentlest of biographers, acknowledges that McCheyne was far too ready to leave his congregation to fulfil an engagement, and in the last year of his life we see him twice visiting England (then a long, wearing journey by horse-drawn carriage) on preaching tours, and visiting parishes all over rural Aberdeenshire to prepare congregations for the coming Disruption. He reportedly preached six times in two days, or on another occasion twenty-seven times in twenty-four days. By the last year of his life his musical, melodious voice was hoarse and cracked, his natural colour was gone, his frame shrunken, his energy dissipated. What might McCheyne have achieved had he lived a normal span? He could well have been a Scottish Spurgeon, preaching with freshness and vigour year after year, decade after decade, winning multitudes to Christ. He could have been one who discipled a whole generation of young believers in holiness of living and purity of doctrine. It is startling to remember that McCheyne’s personal friend Rev. William Aitken of Carlops was one of the Free Church of Scotland ministers who stood bravely outside the Union of 1900, and lived on into the age of motor car and telephone, dying eventually in 1925. Never imagine that it is a waste of your time to give thought to healthy eating, regular exercise, and periodic holidays.

Conclusion: McCheyne and the Literature

The one essential biography of McCheyne is the Memoir by Andrew Bonar,6 an Evangelical classic, and stirring, heart-warming reading. If you are not challenged by the passion and drive for holiness of the young divinity student as seen in his diary extracts, if you are not thrilled as the weary pastor returns from the Holy Land, to find the Spirit rained down in revival power upon his congregation, if you are not moved as the bereft congregation gathers to weep together in their church building on a Saturday evening, mourning the passing of their young shepherd, you must be very hard. The best modern biography is Leen Van Valen’s Constrained by His Love, which has been translated from the Dutch. It is very detailed and lengthy, but is fully in sympathy with McCheyne’s evangelical passion. David Robertson’s Awakening is opinionated, but is a good concise account for all that, drawing out some useful challenges for our own day from McCheyne’s example. There is a thesis by David Yeaworth (Edinburgh University, 1957), which is freely available online, and contains useful material.

Of the three volumes of recently published sermons, all are worthy, but I particularly recommend New Testament Sermons to purchase and to read, as it contains some of McCheyne’s preaching at his absolute best, as well as a good representative sampling of his expository lecturing on 1 Peter. For the keen reader, I would further recommend From the Preacher’s Heart, which was originally published in the nineteenth century under the rather grim title, Additional Remains of R. M. McCheyne. It contains a large selection of representative sermons, including some real gems. But the full volume of Memoir and Remains7 contains a very full sample of all McCheyne’s different writing: poetry, tracts, letters, lectures, sermons, and the famous Bible Reading Plan [also available separately as Read the Bible in a Year.8] This is the place to begin experiencing McCheyne!

Rev Robert Murray Mccheyne

MINISTERIAL STRESS AND BURNOUT

Too many CHURCH LEADERS are becoming health liabilities with stroke, heart attacks, infirmities and dying prematurely as a result of stress and not taking heed to this kind of teachings. I made this mistake some few years back, but the Lord had mercy on me and healed me, that’s why I can bring this message to you.

MINISTERIAL STRESS AND BURNOUT:

Some few days back, a Pastor was preaching in his church and people were really enjoying the sermon. Then suddenly he froze and had to be rushed to the hospital and had not opened his eyes as the time of writing this message!

Another Pastor went to a mountain, proposing to fast for 100 days. He started and on the 31st day of the dry fast, he collapsed, started shaking, could not speak and lost the use of his hands and legs. His sugar level was finished and he is still battling with his health till now.

A Pastor was preaching vigorously and suddenly fell down from the pulpit and died there. And another Pastor went for a medical test. He is 50 years old, but the test result showed that his heart is that of an 80 year old!

All these are not spiritual attacks, but results of stress, overwork and lack of work-life balance by ministers of the gospel.

A. Scriptural Foundation – 1 Kings 19:1-4; 2 Kings 13:14-21

Being a minister is a 24/7 job. BEING A PASTOR IS THE TOUGHEST JOB IN THE WHOLE WORLD. And most ministers are workaholic and work-addict, which results in stress and burnout. Stress is a state/condition of tiredness, weariness, pain in the body, exhaustion, lack of sleep, rest, having emotional issues and obesity – yet you can’t stop, because there is much to do!

Here are those things that stress ministers:-

Church stagnation.
Financial pressure.
Pressure to perform.
Crowded programmes.
Elephant projects.
Unrealistic expectations.
Emotional worries.
Problematic members.
Troublesome associates.
Church bills/remittances.
Low attendance.
Problems at the home front.
Superiors’ pressures.
Pulpit manners.

Quite sad, that most modern Pastors and ministers are under tremendous stress as a result of these stress-inducing factors. Ministers that juggle all these together will definitely end up stressed and experience burnout.

B. The Adverse Effects of Stress And Burnout – 1 Kings 19:1-4; 1 Samuel 13:8-14

Burnout leads to loss of interest, lack of emotion, loss of motivation and possible depression.
✓ Poor health​- stroke, high or low sugar levels.
✓ Family crisis​- separation, divorce and wayward children.
✓ Unresolved conflict​- anger, hurts and terrible words.
✓ Poor performance ​- emotional depletion.
✓ Financial loss ​- debts, losses and poor decision making.

Getting angry, stressed up, hurts and becoming irrational are the outcome of stress and burnout.

C. Ministry-Life Balance – Matthew 11:28-30

It is vitally important that ministers are able to strike the much needed balance between ministry and living. If truly His yoke is easy, why are ministers experiencing being heavy laden in ministry? It is as a result of lack of balance on our part!

A balance minister must have;
Emotional balance.
Mental balance.
Family balance.
Spiritual balance.
Social balance.
Financial balance.
Physical balance.
Psychological balance.

If you are not balanced in these areas, then you can’t minister successfully to others. Here are steps to achieve this balance:

  1. Re-order your priorities right: God first, family second, ministry last.
  2. Eat healthy foods in measures: living foods not dead foods; and not after 6-7pm.
  3. Drink alkaline or living waters.
  4. Train others and delegate your work.
  5. Spend time with your spouse and children.
  6. Have peace with God and possess the peace of God – Isaiah 26:34.
  7. Negate toxic feelings, thoughts and words.
  8. Take healthy breaks to refresh yourself.
  9. Take time to seek and wait upon God.
  10. Exercise – walk, ride bicycle or stretch.
  11. Take time off – vacations, holidays and rest periods.
  12. Learn to sleep 7-8 hours night sleep. Catch a nap in the day time.
  13. Rest in the Lord to work through you – not you working for Him.

It was Robert Murray Mchene who said, “God gave me a horse and a message, now I have killed the horse and could not deliver the message”. He said that on his death bed! He started ministry at 26 years and died at 29 years of age!
WHAT A LOSS!